POLI 422 - Rosen: Contemporary Chinese Youth and State

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13 Apr 2012
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Rosen – Contemporary Chinese Youth and the State
The anniversaries of the May Fourth movement (1919), Tiananmen (1989), and the
bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade by NATO (1999) each has the
opportunity to mobilize different segments of Chinese youth.
Youth intervention ostensibly has a longer revolutionary tradition than the party
itself; it has been a strong force for rectifying the position of the state and
leadership.
Reflecting the pluralization of Chinese society post reform,Chinese youth in 2009
are far from unified in their belief systems or behaviors.”
The youth have been criticized in media, yet, have reversed this trend following the
Sichuan earthquake, during which the youth exhibited altruistic behavior.
There are competing and often contradictory influences acting on Chinese youth.
These include internationalism, pragmatism, materialism, and nationalism.
Surveys indicate that the young generation are willing to make sacrifices if
persuaded that the cause is just.
Today's youth typically view Western media with sceptical criticism, particularly by
well-educated, well-informed Chinese, who assume that such reporting is
attempting to further a pro-Western agenda.
Post-1980s Youth and their Critics
Post-1980s youth are regarded as more individualistic and materialistic by their
predecessors than by themselves.
More than 94% acknowledged that they had been influenced by Western culture.
82% agreed that Western video propagated Western political ideas; fewer than 12%
expressed a willingness to negate these products.
51% identified with American cultural concepts; only 17% said that they did not.
More than 61% identified with liberalism.
36% believed in the separation of powers versus 44% who opposed it.
Other surveys found that the celebration of American holidays correlated directly
with age.
State Initiatives and Youth Responses
Post-1989, Chinese leadership realized a need to find legitimacy, in particular with
rebellious youth, to move beyond ideological criteria to legitimacy based on
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