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China to revamp party's youth league

The downsizing and reorientation of the leadership of its auxiliary reserve force — the Communist Youth League (CYL) — is a part of a return-to-the-grassroots programme marshalled by Chinese President Xi Jinping

The downsizing and reorientation of the leadership of its auxiliary reserve force — the Communist Youth League (CYL) — is a part of a return-to-the-grassroots programme marshalled by Chinese President Xi Jinping  

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As part of a return-to-the-grassroots programme marshalled by President Xi Jinping.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) is downsizing and reorienting the leadership of its auxiliary reserve force — the Communist Youth League (CYL) — as part of a return-to-the-grassroots programme marshaled by President Xi Jinping.

On Tuesday, a document released by the Central Committee of the CPC said that the new reform would slash the leadership size of the CYL. Besides, a more cohesive Central Committee of the organisation would have larger representation of members drawn from the “frontlines” or the grassroots.

Critical role in recruitment

The 88-million-strong CYL plays a critical role for the recruitment of new members into the Party. It has regular members in the 14-28 age bracket. But its leadership, from where the CPC can channel fresh talent, is not restricted by the age bar. Former President Hu Jintao, current Prime Minister Li Keqiang and the Vice- President Li Yuanchao, have all risen from the CYL’s ranks, to acquire top positions in the CPC and government.

In recent years, criticism against the CYL has simmered sporadically, with allegations that it has spawned factions within the Party. Some scholars see the late Hu Yaobang, a former CYL secretary who later

became the General Secretary of the CPC before he was apparently forced to resign from his post in 1987, as the League’s first faction leader.

It is on the government radar

Despite the controversies, the CYL has been persistently on the radar only after Mr. Xi became the CPC’s General Secretary, and President, following the 18th Party Congress of November 2012.

In the following year, the President nudged the CYL to “help young people to set high ambitions, strengthen their belief in the socialist path with Chinese characteristics, equip them with scientific theories and inspire them with a historical perspective.”

But the gloves were truly off in February when Beijing Daily, the official newspaper of the CPC’s Beijing municipal committee, slammed the League as a group of “ambitious aristocrats” who lacked acumen to

lead the country. While noting that there were exceptions among its ranks, it nevertheless exhorted cadres with a CYL background to prove themselves through longer stints outside their ivory towers.

‘Ailing from focus on entertainment’

An article in the state-run Xinhua news agency earlier this week also underscored that the CYL has been ailing from “undesirable work styles,” which included “elitism and a focus on entertainment.”

Analysts say that the CPC’s directive is a follow-up of Mr. Xi’s consolidation of power, and his attempt to deepen the legitimacy of the Party. “President Xi has already won the power struggle through his anti-corruption campaign in all organs of the state, including the military. Now he wants to expand the CPC’s legitimacy especially among the youth,” a former CYL member, who did not wish to be named, told

The Hindu. He added: “The initiative should be seen as part of President Xi’s overall reforms. It is part of the blueprint to revive the CPC and CYL.”

Observers highlight that the arrest, and subsequent life-sentencing, of Ling Jihua, on grounds of corruption made a significant dent in elimination of factions within the CPC. Mr. Ling was a top adviser for former President Hu Jintao, and his arrest is widely seen as a turning point in unifying the Party on Mr. Xi’s watch.

Urgent need for reforms

The Xinhua article also stressed the urgency for undertaking reforms, so that the CYL could plug into the psyche of China’s cyber-active youth. The write-up pointed out that a pilot project on CYL reforms was launched with considerable success late last year, in the municipalities of Shanghai — the cradle of the CYL — and Chongqing – the southwestern city at the confluence of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers.

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Printable version | Nov 22, 2019 12:55:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/China-to-revamp-partys-youth-league/article14553357.ece

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