The All-China Youth Federation, a youth organization whose members have typically come from elites in government offices, State-owned firms and colleges, is reaching out to some of China's most popular livestreamers, video bloggers and hip-pop dancers.
Among them is Li Ziqi, a video blogger with 11.9 million followers on YouTube and 26 million on the Sina Weibo microblogging service. The 30-year-old has soared to fame over the past year by vlogging about traditional food and rural life.
Viya, 35, a youth-icon-turned-livestreamer on e-commerce platform Taobao, was also elected a member. She is a top seller of products ranging from cosmetics to farm produce during marathon livestreaming sessions, and has amassed hundreds of millions of fans, mostly young urbanites. She also provided funding to 37 poor rural schools as part of her charity endeavors.
Membership in the federation, a mass organization guided by the Communist Party of China, was also extended to hip-pop dancer Ban Changfei in Guizhou Province and graffiti artist Jiang Heng in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province. The move defies the stereotype that members should be office workers in suits.
The inclusion of web celebrities and nonmainstream artists has sparked online discussions over eligibility. But Lian Si, a member of the federation's standing committee and a professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said the move has bolstered the representativeness of established youth organizations.
"It also offered a chance for such organizations to learn about new trends in youth communities," he said, adding they "should reflect the diversity of youthful populations".
Lian, who has coached new ACYF members, said the percentage of positions held by farmers and factory workers has grown over the past five years, as has the proportion held by food delivery workers and those employed by the gig economy. That has given voice to previously underrepresented groups, he said.
"Federation members were all best performers in their respective fields, but it should be noted that we also need members who are not elites, because through them we can see problems facing the young and their wishes," he said.
However, Lian said that merely giving them membership is far from enough. More efforts are needed to make them opinion leaders who can unite more of their peers.
"The federation has been holding regular activities helping to coach and engage them," he said.
China has ramped up efforts over the past five years to reform the youth federation and scores of other mass organizations. As part of the move, organizations including the All-China Women's Federation and the China Disabled Persons' Federation have launched sweeping campaigns to solve problems such as staying aloof from the masses and addressing the need to reach out to the grassroots.
Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan on Monday urged more reforms on that front. While addressing a session of the ACYF and the congress of the All-China Students' Federation in Beijing on behalf of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, Sun said the youth groups should continue to absorb outstanding youths from the grassroots.
(Source: China Daily)
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