Young Chinese: Confident in themselves and their country

By Yuan Ye and Wang Jianfen | | Updated: 2021-07-09 12:35
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Li Yueyue, a maintenance worker at Bayangol Coal Mine in North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, dispatches an instruction through an intelligent voice system, on June 20, 2019. Together with 40-plus college graduates, Li joined the coal mine in 2013 when it was still under construction. They formed a special mining team. Two years later, the "Li Yueyue Innovation Studio for Highly Skilled Talents (Model Workers)" was established. Li led 16 young people with an average age of 28 in the successful completion of 11 innovative results, generating 5.07 million yuan in revenues. [Photo by Li Jianquan/China Youth Daily - China Youth Net]

A stronger generation

As "internet natives" who have grown up seemingly attached to their cell phones, young Chinese are strangers to adjectives like "closed-minded" and "conservative," just like other members of Gen Z around the world.

Decades of rapid economic growth mean they have unparalleled spending power. This growth has also contributed to the rapid rise of Chinese brands like Li Ning and Anta, which are challenging the market dominance of Nike and Adidas.

"When the granaries are full, the people will know propriety and moderation; when their clothing and food are adequate, they will know the distinction between honor and shame." This old Chinese saying is as well-known in China as Shakespeare's "To be or not to be" is among English speakers.

When Chinese people's material needs are taken care of, reading becomes their go-to choice. Like some Western businesspeople, wealthy Chinese also enjoy donating to educational charities. These traditional concepts have acquired new meaning in the new era.

Statistics from China's Ministry of Education show in 2020, the completion rate of compulsory education in China was 95.2 percent, and the enrollment rate for higher education was 54.4 percent, both reaching the average levels of high-income countries.

The government, social organizations and businesses offer scholarships and loans to students so they do not need to worry about tuition or living expenses once they receive a university offer.

In 2018, nearly 200 million Chinese students were studying foreign languages, which represents the largest group of foreign language learners anywhere in the world, while that year alone, 660,000 Chinese students went overseas to study.

Engineering runs deep in the genes of almost every Chinese person.

The parents of Gen Z members are familiar with the saying: "If you have a good command of math and sciences, you will find many endeavors are easily within your control." And Gen Z students have followed their advice.

China has more engineers than any other country, and is the only country in the world to obtain all the industrial categories listed in the United Nations industrial classification.

These industries absorb a large number of people and allow a wide variety of young people to find employment, no matter their university major or interests. Many have long been the backbones of their industries. They are hailed in China as "master craftspeople of the nation" and frequently make headlines, becoming celebrities in their own right.

Zhou Yajuan, 30, works on the wiring of a subway train in an assembly workshop of CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive's urban rail business department in Zhuzhou, Central China's Hunan province, on May 29, 2021. On the underside of the crown of her cap, she has written her 5-year-old daughter's name, Nini. Zhou has been involved in the manufacture of urban rail vehicles for use in numerous cities at home and abroad. She is currently working on subway trains for Guangzhou Metro Line 18/22, the first underground urban rapid transit express line with a speed of 160 km/h in China. The first batch of trains was officially delivered last September. CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive currently has more than 7,000 employees, of whom more than 1,500 are female. These workers are working hard to help create "China Speed." [Photo by Kong Siqi/China Youth Daily - China Youth Net]

Zang Tiejun, 24, is a welder at CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China Railway Rolling Stock Corp, the country's largest rolling stock manufacturer by production volume. He has completed nearly 250,000 meters of flawless welding, becoming the youngest senior technician in the company's history. In the design team for the Fuxing trains – the newest and fastest bullet trains in China, 136 designers are under 35, forming the main force of the team.

Zou Bin (right), deputy to the National People's Congress, takes part in a panel discussion with the Hunan province delegation to deliberate work reports of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate during the second session of the 13th NPC in Beijing, on March 13, 2019. Born in August 1995, Zou is the youngest member of the Hunan delegation. He won a prize for bricklaying at the 43rd WorldSkills Competition and is a quality manager at the General Contracting Company of the China Construction Fifth Engineering Division under the China State Construction Engineering Corporation. [Photo by Li Zhengni/China Youth Daily - China Youth Net]

Zou Bin is almost the same age as Zang, but his job seems somewhat less high-tech.

As a mason from the countryside, he is mainly responsible for mixing mortar, sifting sand and laying bricks on construction sites. But that hasn't stopped Zou from making a name for himself.

In 2014, he won first place in a bricklaying competition organized by a major construction company. The next year, he won China's first medal in bricklaying at the 43rd WorldSkills Competition held in Brazil.

Now, Zou is a quality manager and has also joined the CPC.

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