We are very pleased to publish the full text of the speech given on May 10th 2022 by President Xi Jinping marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Youth League of China.
In his comprehensive exposition, President Xi outlines how the youth have always stood in the forefront of the struggles and striving of the Chinese people and nation. The May Fourth Movement of the youth and students in 1919, “promoted the spread of Marxism in China, ushered in the new-democratic revolution, and marked the beginning of the youth’s role as the pioneers advancing social changes in China… As Marxism-Leninism was becoming closely integrated with the Chinese workers’ movement, the Communist Party of China was born. Since the day of its founding, the Party has paid particular attention to the youth and placed the hopes of revolution on them.”
He further outlined the indispensable role of the Communist Youth League and young people generally in the periods of the new-democratic revolution, socialist revolution and construction, reform, opening up and socialist modernisation, and the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
“Inspired by ideals and convictions,” Xi pointed out, “the Communist Youth League has organised and united young people with firm belief and scientific thinking. The first national congress of the League defined building a communist society as its ultimate ideal and made clear its banner of socialism, which has lit the beacon of ideals and convictions among generations of young people. This is the most fundamental and enduring cohesion of the League. History tells us that only by holding high the banner of communism and socialism, can the Communist Youth League form the most solid unity, forge the most effective organisation, and ensure that the youth are united under the banner of the Party’s ideals and convictions.”
Expressing the hope that the League would continue to play its vanguard role, President Xi noted that: “Young people are the most vigorous, enterprising, and least conservative group in society, who possess infinite power to improve the objective world and promote social progress,” adding:
“Revolutionaries are always young. Today, a hundred years on from its founding, the Communist Party of China is still in its prime, and remains as determined as ever to achieve lasting greatness for the Chinese nation. Quoting from Engels, Lenin once said, ‘We are the party of the future, and the future belongs to the youth. We are a party of innovators, and it is always the youth that most eagerly follows the innovators. We are a party that is waging a self-sacrificing struggle against the old rottenness, and youth is always the first to undertake a self-sacrificing struggle.’ Both history and reality have shown that the Communist Party of China is a party that always preserves its youthful features and a party that is worthy of the young people’s trust and worth following.”
Party organisations, the Chinese President said, “must attach great importance to the training and recruitment of outstanding young people and should particularly focus on cultivating and admitting outstanding League members into the Party, so as to ensure our socialist country never changes its nature.”
Members of the Communist Youth League of China (League), young friends, and comrades,
Youth gives rise to infinite hope, and young people are the creators of a bright future. A nation can thrive and prosper only when it places hopes on its youth and maintains its youthful vigor.
Today, we are gathered here at the ceremony marking the centenary of the Communist Youth League of China to encourage League members and young people to forge ahead on the new journey toward realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.
First of all, on behalf of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, I would like to extend warm congratulations and sincere greetings to all League members as well as Communist Youth League organizations and staff at all levels.
League members, young friends, and comrades,
The Chinese nation is an ancient nation with a long, enduring history and has experienced many years of vicissitudes. More importantly, it is also a youthful nation that continuously pursues self-improvement and remains vibrant. With a civilization of over 5,000 years, our nation has long cherished the traditional belief that heroes are cultivated from young age and embraces the idea that the waves behind drive on those ahead. We believe a nation will be strong only when its young people are strong and a nation will make progress only when its younger generations make progress. We have always believed that the future of our nation rest on youths. For hundreds of years, the strength, vitality, and creativity of the youth have always been a mighty force that drives our nation forward against all challenges and enables it to stand tall among the nations of the world.
The destiny of the youth is always closely connected with the times. After the Opium War of 1840, China was gradually reduced to a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society and suffered greater ravages than ever before. The country endured intense humiliation, the people were subjected to great pain, and the Chinese civilization was plunged into darkness. Many noble-minded patriots sought to pull the nation together. Many progressive young people were enlightened at this “Awakening Age.” The great May Fourth Movement promoted the spread of Marxism in China, ushered in the new-democratic revolution, and marked the beginning of the youth’s role as the pioneers advancing social changes in China.
With the youth awakened and advanced ideas disseminated, the dynamic revolution quickly swept across the vast land of China. As Marxism-Leninism was becoming closely integrated with the Chinese workers’ movement, the Communist Party of China was born. Since the day of its founding, the Party has paid particular attention to the youth and placed the hopes of revolution on them. At its First National Congress, the Party carried out specific studies into the establishment and development of a youth league as the prep school for the Party. On May 5, 1922, the Communist Youth League of China was founded under the direct care and leadership of the CPC, marking a milestone in the history of China’s revolution and youth movement.
Faithfully following the Party and working for the Party and the people constitute the Communist Youth League’s original aspiration and founding mission, to which the League has stayed true over the past century. Under the Party’s strong leadership, it has organized and guided generation after generation of young people to stay firm in their convictions and loyal to the Party, fight for national independence and the people’s liberation, and contribute to the country’s strength and prosperity and the happiness of the people. Through these efforts, a stirring chapter of youth was written on our path toward China’s national rejuvenation.
In the period of the new-democratic revolution, the Communist Youth League actively engaged in promoting Marxism in China, enlightening young people with advanced ideas and rallying their force. Under the League’s leadership, its members and young people devoted themselves to anti-imperialist and anti-feudal movements of workers, peasants, and students, actively served in revolutionary armies led by the Party, and fought in the battles to bring down warlords, resist Japanese invaders, and overthrow the rule of the Kuomintang. They manifested a spirit of fighting bravely without fear of sacrifice. Charging forward through hailstorms of bullets, League members and young people showed their firm faith and passed the test of life and death, dedicating their youth to the victory of China’s revolution and making outstanding contributions.
In the period of socialist revolution and construction, the Communist Youth League took an active part in the most extensive and profound social reform in the Chinese history. Its members acted as the spearhead in various campaigns and they were organized to reclaim uncultivated land, educate the illiterate, and learn from the model soldier Lei Feng. Under the League’s leadership, its members and young people were empowered by the spirit of “daring to make the sun and the moon shine in the new sky” and shouted out the slogan of “devoting our youth to the motherland.” They rose to all sorts of challenges, no matter in scientific researches or the harsh natural environment. They manifested a spirit of daring to struggle and working hard. Pulling through hardships and dangers, League members and young people took the initiative to shoulder responsibilities and braved themselves in the most challenging and demanding missions, dedicating their youth to the country’s construction and making outstanding contributions.
In the new period of reform and opening up and socialist modernization, the Communist Youth League adjusted itself to the strategic shift in the focus of the Party and the country’s work, freed the mind, and forged ahead with resolve. It launched a large number of creative initiatives, encouraging young people to be “pacesetters of the New Long March,” to uphold “five things to stress,” “four things to beautify,” and “three things to love,” to join the Project Hope for children’s education in rural areas, to serve as volunteers, to perfect their professional performances, and to work for the environmental project “Mother River Protection.” Under the League’s leadership, a call of the time that “let us unite for national rejuvenation” resonated, and League members and young people rode the waves on all fronts of modernization. They manifested a spirit of daring to explore and setting the trend. Engaging themselves in the modernization drive by destroying the old and establishing the new, League members and young people acted as trailblazers of reform and led the way ahead, dedicating their youth to the country’s reform and opening up and socialist modernization and making outstanding contributions.
In the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the Communist Youth League has pursued a great struggle, a great project, a great cause, and a great dream, made innovation on the basis of what has worked in the past, advanced its work with full strength, and reformed itself comprehensively. Under the League’s leadership, its members and young people did their best in the fight against poverty, in cutting-edge scientific researches, in disaster rescue and relief missions, on the epidemic response frontline, in the Olympic arena, and at posts of defending the motherland, stepping up and responding to the calls of the Party and the people when they were most needed. They have manifested a spirit of self-confidence, self-reliance, vigor, and action. “My pure love is only for China,” a phrase written by a young soldier and martyr, has become the most powerful expression of young people in contemporary China. Bearing a great dream and a great mission, League members and young people have willingly carried the ball on the frontline and demonstrated their brilliance in the course of realizing national rejuvenation, dedicating their youth to historic achievements and changes in the cause of the Party and the country and making outstanding contributions.
Although the times keep changing, young people in China have been committed to the same mission. Over the past century, the Communist Youth League has been of one heart and mind with the Party and followed in its footsteps. It has united and led League members and young people in dedicating themselves to the cause of the Party and the people, devoting their youth to the journey toward national rejuvenation, and thus engraving their glory in the annals of history.
Both history and reality tell us that the Communist Youth League of China is worthy of being regarded as the vanguard of the Chinese youth movement, a loyal aide to the Party, and a reliable reserve force.
League members, young friends, and comrades,
The further we advance and the higher we climb, the better we should be at absorbing wisdom from our past experience, boosting our confidence, and improving our strength. Over the past century, with firm ideals and strong will, the Communist Youth League has amassed valuable experience which should be drawn upon to make new achievements in the future.
The 100-year history of the Communist Youth League has defined that upholding Party leadership is crucial to the League’s success.
The Communist Youth League would not have taken shape without the Communist Party of China. Since the very first day it was founded, the League has shared the same banner, will, and mission with the Party, integrated upholding the leadership of the Party into its lifeblood, and developed its particular character and distinct advantage which differentiate it from other youth organizations. Following the instructions and guidance of the Party remains the political career of the League, and that the League will act upon the Party’s call is the political belief of League members from generation to generation. History has proved that only if it upholds Party leadership can the Communist Youth League unite the youth and lead them in moving forward and ensure that the Chinese youth movement is advancing in the right political direction.
The 100-year history of the Communist Youth League has instilled its political essence of having firm ideals and convictions.
Inspired by ideals and convictions, the Communist Youth League has organized and united young people with firm belief and scientific thinking. The first national congress of the League defined building a communist society as its ultimate ideal and made clear its banner of socialism, which has lighted the beacon of ideals and convictions among generations of young people. This is the most fundamental and enduring cohesion of the League. History tells us that only by holding high the banner of communism and socialism, can the Communist Youth League form the most solid unity, forge the most effective organization, and ensure that the youth are united under the banner of the Party’s ideals and convictions.
The 100-year history of the Communist Youth League has helped build up its strength for contributing to national rejuvenation.
The Party’s goal determines the orientation of the Communist Youth League’s action. Focusing on the Party’s key tasks in different stages of history, the League has united and led its members and youths in joining the people in practice. It has served as pioneers in efforts toward national rejuvenation and played their role as a fresh driving force and the spearhead, ensuring that the goal of achieving national rejuvenation become the main theme throughout the Chinese youth movement. History has fully demonstrated that only by centering on endeavoring for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, can the Communist Youth League unite as many young people as possible to write an epic chapter of youth.
The 100-year history of the Communist Youth League has identified taking root among young people as its source of vitality.
The Communist Youth League is glowing with youth and vigor after a hundred years of vicissitudes because it has consistently taken root among young people, put its focus of work on the overwhelming majority of young workers and peasants and ordinary youths, and stood with the youth while building a bridge to bring young people closer to the Party. History has shown that only by drawing nourishment and strength from the fertile soil of the vast number of young people, can the Communist Youth League be a close friend to youths that is trustworthy, reliable, and inseparable.
League members, young friends, and comrades,
Under the strong leadership of the Party, people of all ethnic groups in China have united as one with a shared purpose, have fulfilled the First Centenary Goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and are moving on toward the Second Centenary Goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects.
Realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation is a relay race of history in which today’s young people should strive for excellent performance. The times have always endowed young people with historical responsibilities. For generations of youths in the new era, the time could not be better for them to complete weighty tasks since they have an incomparably broad stage to display their talents and brighter prospects than ever before to realize their dreams. At the ceremony marking the centenary of the Communist Party of China, representatives from the Communist Youth League and the Young Pioneers declared the commitment of making due contribution to building a strong country. This is what Chinese youths are supposed to do in the new era and what the Party’s youth organizations must be committed to.
On the new journey ahead, how to better unite, organize, and mobilize young people in China’s efforts to achieve the Second Centenary Goal and realize the Chinese Dream is a major topic that needs to be addressed in the Chinese youth movement and work related to youths in the new era. The Communist Youth League must enhance its leadership, organization, and services, unite and help its members and young people grow into new-era exemplary youths who have ideals, dare to assume responsibility, and are hardworking and able to endure hardship. In this way, they will build up the momentum for national rejuvenation with their youthful energy and creativity and build a better China with their youthful ingenuity and effort.
Here I would like to share a few of my hopes with the League.
First, I hope the League would nourish the youth for the Party and remain a political school that leads the political advancement of the Chinese youth. Only those aim high would scale the heights and look afar, and only those with a global vision would achieve great success. The passion of youth should be accompanied by firm ideals and convictions. By including the word “communist” into the League’s name, the Party hopes that this youth organization would always stand on the high ground of ideals and convictions, equip the youth with the Party’s theories, inspire them with the Party’s original aspiration and founding mission, guide them with the Party’s glorious banner, and shape them with the Party’s fine conduct. The youth of China in the new era are more confident and capable of self-improvement, and they think more critically. At the same time, they are facing the influence of various trends of thought and would inevitably get confused about matters such as ideals and reality, doctrines and issues, egoism and altruism, individual and collective identities, and the nation and the world. More meticulous education and guidance is needed to help them make social observations with a sharp eye, think about life with a sober mind, and create the future with wisdom.
As a school for the young people to study socialism with Chinese characteristics and communism through practice, the Communist Youth League should be politically-minded, start with ways of thinking, and take into consideration the characteristics of the youth in helping them set lofty goals at an early age, and in fostering their trust for the Party, confidence in socialism with Chinese characteristics and belief in Marxism from the bottom of their hearts. The League should be guided by the vitally important goal of making sure that the cause of the Party is carried forward by future generations, and focus on the fundamental task of preparing the youth to contribute to and carry forward the socialist cause. It should help the youth become more proud, confident, and assured in their identity as Chinese people through tempering both in thinking and practice, so that the cause of the Party will be carried on from generation to generation.
Second, I hope the League would take up its responsibilities and remain a vanguard in organizing the Chinese youth to keep going forward. Working hard is the brightest color of youth, and taking actions is the best trial for young people. Responsibilities and commitment are what make the youthful years shine. The youth are always pioneers who are most passionate about innovation and most motivated to innovate. The cause of the Party and the people would not be advanced without the endeavor and dedication of generations of young aspirants. Only when youth fully aligns with the cause of the Party and the people, can its spectrum be broadened and energy fully stimulated. Young people are the most vigorous, enterprising, and least conservative group in society, who possess infinite power to improve the objective world and promote social progress. The Communist Youth League should unite and lead its members and young people in catching the contemporary waves, heeding the call of the Party and the people, bearing in mind the country’s most fundamental interests, shouldering their missions, and realizing their aspirations and making achievements in new fronts in the new era. The League should encourage its members and young people to pursue the great ideal, drive forward the great cause, and let their youth blossom in fields where the Party and the people need them most.
Thirdly, I hope the League would bear in mind the interests of the youth and remain the strongest bond between the Party and the youth. The Communist Youth League is a people’s organization under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, as well as the youth’s own organization. The greatest strength of the League lies in its network at the primary level that allows the League to stay close to the youth. The League should uphold the lifeline of serving the youth and carry out its political duty of consolidating and expanding the support from the youth for the Party’s governance. While letting the Party know about the wellbeing of the youth, the League should also fully pass on the Party’s care to the youth. The League should make every effort to benefit the youth, solve their difficulties, think from their perspective, respond to their concerns, and make full use of the resources and channels provided by the Party to offer the youth tangible support. In this way, young people would genuinely feel that the Party is always close by and ready to attend to their needs.
Fourthly, the League should have the courage to reform itself and remain an advanced organization that closely follows the Party and stays at the forefront of the times. For the Communist Youth League, what kind of youth organization it should develop itself into and how to build it are major questions of fundamental importance. “A fixed system is not capable of responding to infinite changes, one road would not lead to myriad destinations, and a lost sword would hardly be located in a river by leaving a mark on the boat.” Only through bold self-reform can the League keep pace with the times, the youth’s development, and the trend of practice and innovation.
The Communist Youth League should ensure the overall leadership of the Party throughout the whole process of its work in all areas, follow the Chinese socialist development path of people’s organizations, focus on the goal and direction of maintaining and strengthening its political character, pioneering nature, and connection with the people, and deepen its reform. The League should develop a keen understanding of the youth and, in light of the new changes and features of young people’s work and life styles, explore new approaches and models for its primary-level organizations. It should lead youth and student federations in promoting patriotism and socialism and constantly consolidate and expand the patriotic united front among the youth. The League should also use the Party’s experience and effective practices in strict Party self-governance to improve itself with the spirit of reform and innovation and in a strict and practical manner, and at the same time exercise rigorous self-governance. Through comprehensive and high-standard self-improvement, the Communist Youth League will take on a positive image that reflects the spirit of the times.
As a line in an old Chinese poem goes, “Everything in life must be experienced by oneself; it is the minor steps that take one to a wider world.” Striving for progress is the most precious character of the youth, and it is also what is most expected of them by our Party and people. League members in the new era should be role models of upholding lofty ideals and firm beliefs, take the lead in studying Marxist theory, build the ideal of communism and a shared ideal of socialism with Chinese characteristics, conscientiously practice core socialist values, and fully promote patriotism. They should play an exemplary role by studying hard and boldly engaging in innovation, take the requirements of their jobs as the starting point to improve their capabilities and strive for excellence, and try their best to become backbone personnel and advanced youths. They should be both brave and adept in carrying out our struggle, lead the way in rising to challenges and tackling tough problems, and refuse to be taken in by fallacies or to tremble in the face of danger. They should be models of hard work and dedication, take the lead in remaining committed to standing on the side of the people, be realistic, pragmatic, and down-to-earth, be the first to suffer hardship and the last to enjoy comfort, and be willing to play a minor but forever effective role in their posts. They should set an example in acting in a good and virtuous manner and in observing a strict code of discipline, uphold public and personal morals, abide by disciplinary regulations and the law, and strictly fulfill their obligations as members of the Communist Youth League. All League members should receive political training, intensify political tempering, and strive for political advancement. On this basis, they should actively draw closer to the Party, set it as their goal to become a qualified Party member, and take pride in achieving it.
For many years, the staff of the Communist Youth League have carried forward their fine traditions, diligently performed their duties, and thus made significant contributions to the Party’s work related to youths. League staff must refine their political character of being loyal to the Party, champion the spirit of pursuing noble ideals, and remain clear-minded and strong-hearted so that they make people feel the lucidness and pureness of young officials at first sight. They must consciously practice the mass line and firmly establish a correct mass viewpoint, maintain close ties with youths, be friends instead of “bureaucrats” to youths, and work to better benefit youths rather than themselves. They must develop a work style of being responsible and practical, refrain from empty talk to do more pragmatic work, have the courage to bear hardships, take on difficult tasks, shoulder heavy responsibilities, and face risks under harsh environments and at the community level, and conduct themselves properly and do solid work. They must improve moral cultivation to remain honest and self-disciplined, hold regulations and the law in awe and speak and act prudently, constantly build up their willpower, perseverance, and self-control, and be persons who always bear the public good in mind, have a strong sense of righteousness, and remain untainted by malpractices.
League members, young friends, and comrades,
Revolutionaries are always young. Today, a hundred years on from its founding, the Communist Party of China is still in its prime, and remains as determined as ever to achieve lasting greatness for the Chinese nation. Quoting from Engels, Lenin once said, “We are the party of the future, and the future belongs to the youth. We are a party of innovators, and it is always the youth that most eagerly follows the innovators. We are a party that is waging a self-sacrificing struggle against the old rottenness, and youth is always the first to undertake a self-sacrificing struggle.” Both history and reality have shown that the Communist Party of China is a party that always preserves its youthful features and a party that is worthy of the young people’s trust and worth following.
On the quest to realize national rejuvenation, the Communist Party of China is the vanguard, the Communist Youth League is the spearhead, and the Young Pioneers is the reserve force. Joining the Pioneers, the League, and then the Party makes up the “trilogy of life” for youths seeking political advancement. The Party has kept its gate open to all young people and will continue to welcome more youths who will add new blood to the Party. The Communist Youth League must perform its political duty of guiding the Young Pioneers, standardize and strengthen mechanisms for the Young Pioneers recommending outstanding members to the Youth League and from the League to the Party, and work hard to improve the interconnection and coordination between personnel cultivation in the Young Pioneers, the League, and the Party. Party organizations at all levels must attach great importance to the training and recruitment of outstanding young people and should, particularly, focus on cultivating and admitting outstanding League members into the Party, so as to ensure our socialist country never changes its nature.
Li Dazhao, a Chinese communist, once said, “The youth are the soul of a country.” The Party’s work related to young people was, is, and will be of strategic importance. Party committees and Party leadership groups at all levels must study the laws governing youths’ growth and their contemporary features with great enthusiasm, devote great energy to the work related to youths, and serve wholeheartedly as their confidant and their guide. Party organizations at all levels must implement the systems and mechanisms for using Party building to lead League building, study and resolve major issues regarding League work on a regular basis, care about and expect more of League staff, and support the League in creatively carrying out their initiatives in accordance with the features of and the laws governing the work on people’s organizations.
League members, young friends, and comrades,
More than 2,000 years ago, Confucius said, “A youth is to be regarded with respect. How do you know that his future will not be equal to our present?” For the Party and the country, young people deserve the best protection and bear our highest expectations. They are like the young trees thriving on earth that will eventually grow into towering trees to provide shelter for those in need. They are like the rising sun whose energy keeps on increasing as it climbs up the sky until the moment when it lights and warms up the earth. The Party and the country place their hopes on the youth.
As the Northern Shaanxi College was set up in 1937, Comrade Mao Zedong wrote the inscription “We need to cultivate a large number of personnel who will become the vanguard of China’s revolution. They are politically far-sighted and full of the spirit of struggle and self-sacrifice. They have largeness of mind and are loyal, active, and upright. They do not pursue any personal gain, but work for the sole purpose of national and social liberation. They always meet difficulty head-on with resolve and brave persistence. They are neither swaggerers nor people who seek the limelight, but rather practical people who keep their feet firmly on the ground. Once our country has a large number of such vanguard, the task of China’s revolution will be carried out successfully.” In present-day China, the Party and the people still need a large number of such vanguard, and the Party Central Committee earnestly hopes the Communist Youth League can deliver results in this regard. This is the ardent expectation of the Party as well as our motherland and people.