Jhe Communist Youth League of China (CYLC) of the Communist Party of China is an institution which, as the Socialist Youth League, came into being even before the founding date of the party. On May 5, CYLC celebrated its centenary and youth activism, forever changing China’s history with its first National Congress in Guangzhou, Guangdong. The CYLC has a complex history that puts the league at odds with party elders, but it remains an important institution not entirely under Xi’s control.
Achieving the Chinese dream is a historic marathon, and contemporary youth should strive to be the first in the race to realize national rejuvenation, Xi said Tuesday at a rally to celebrate CYLC’s centenary.
The hashtag Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Youth League was the number one trend on Chinese social media platform, Weibo, and Chinese search engine, Baidu.
According to someestimates, the CYLC has more than 81 million members, compared to 95 million for the PCCs, or about 6% of the Chinese population. Members of the CYL are independent of the CCP, and individuals may be members of either or both.
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CYLC, CCP and their history
After the abdication of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, the defunct Kuomintang, or Chinese Nationalist Party, attempted to use the youth-led movement for political gain. The CCP, a very young party at the time, was caught up in a struggle with the Kuomintang for control of youth politics in the early 1920s. Originally established as the Socialist Youth League in 1920, the he organization changed its name in May 1922 to become the Chinese Communist Youth League.
During the Cultural Revolution, the organization encountered difficulties and was accused of bourgeois revisionism. Mao encouraged young people to join his Red Guard and avoid the youth league. CYL’s activities were seized between 1966 and 1973 after the organization was re-established under Deng Xiaoping.
Within the CCP, the CYL acts as an organization that has allowed non-elitist aspirants to rise through the ranks of the party. Since the Deng era, the top party leadership has seen a power-sharing agreement between the populist coalition and the elitist coalition. Many of those in the populist coalition progressed through the CYL system and came from non-elitist or princely backgrounds. The leaders of CYL origin within the political office are calledtuanpaior league faction.
President Xi belongs to the elitist coalition and Premier Li Keqiang represents the populist coalition. Before Xi, Hu Jintao sat at the top of the CYL andpromotedyoung leaders who could enter elite politics.
Influential members of the league faction include Hu Jintao, Li Keqiang, Hu Chunhua, Hu Yaobang, Li Yuanchao, Wang Yang, Liu Yandong, and Zhou Qiang. Among past and current members of the league factions, Hu Chunhua has the potential to enter the Politburo Standing Committee later this year.
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Xi targeting CYLC
Under Xi, the CYLC has undergone little transformation and the president has targeted the CYLC to reduce its influence in elite politics. The Xis targeting of the CYL can beassigned to its strategy of reducing the chances of its rivals promoting an alternative to its authority. But Xi has yet to bring the league faction’s influence under his control, which still has a significant presence in elite politics.
Experts who closely follow the politics of China’s elites havespeculatedthat the league faction acted as a tool to maintain a balance of power within the Politburo Standing Committee.
In 2015, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) initiated work to inspect and rectify the CYLC. rivals on corruption charges.
And, in a 2017 book compiling his commentaries on youth issues, Xi Jinping warned CYL against empty slogans (konghan kouhao) and becoming an empty shell (kongke). He also pleaded for more control of the Party,writingJrme Doyon inChina quarterly.
Yang Jing, who served as CYLC secretary for Inner Mongolia, was a rising star in the party, promoted by Hu Jintao until he was put on a year’s probation and demoted from his position. in 2018. It is the CCDI whichinvestigationYang for serious disciplinary breaches.
Ling Jihua, anothertuanpai, was close to Hu Jintao and a rising star. In 2016, Ling receivedperpetuityfor corruption.
But Xi might want to eliminate the factional influence of the CYLC.
The 100-year journey has shaped the foundation of the Communist Youth Leagues’ adherence to party leadership, the political soul of the Communist Youth Leagues’ adherence to its ideals and beliefs, the driving force of the Communist Youth League to devote themselves to national rejuvenation, and the source of vitality of the Communist Youth League rooted in youth. This is an important guide for the Communist Youth League to face the future and make new contributions Ximentionedat the centenary celebration.
As China’s youth face a jobs crisis and there is growing discontent about the country’s future direction, youth-led politics may have a surprise to offer as there is no no clear successor to Xi.
Despite Xi’s attempts to eliminate the league faction’s influence, the CYLC remains a vibrant organization that will continue to influence Chinese politics.
The author is a freelance columnist and journalist. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in international politics with a focus on China at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He was previously a Chinese media reporter at the BBC World Service. He tweets @aadilbrar. Views are personal.
(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)
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