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Communist Youth League of China

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Communist Youth League of China
SecretaryA Dong
  • 1920; 104 years ago (1920) (foundation)
  • 5 May 1922; 102 years ago (1922-05-05) (official)
HeadquartersNo. 10, Qianmen Dongdajie, Beijing
Mother partyChinese Communist Party
International affiliation
NewspaperChina Youth Daily
Websitewww.gqt.org.cn Edit this at Wikidata
Communist Youth League of China
Simplified Chinese中国共产主义青年团
Traditional Chinese中國共產主義青年團
Literal meaningCommunist Youth League of China
Simplified Chinese共青团
Traditional Chinese共青團
Literal meaningCommunist Youth League
Original name
Simplified Chinese中国社会主义青年团
Traditional Chinese中國社會主義青年團
Literal meaningSocialist Youth League of China
Wartime name
Simplified Chinese中国新民主主义青年团
Traditional Chinese中國新民主主義青年團
Literal meaningChina New Democracy Youth League

The Communist Youth League of China (CYLC), also known as the Young Communist League of China or simply the Communist Youth League (CYL), is a people's organization of the People's Republic of China for youth between the ages of 14 and 28, run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The league is organized on the party pattern.[1] Its leader is its First Secretary, who is an alternate member of the Central Committee of the CCP. The incumbent First Secretary is A Dong, appointed in May 2023. The Communist Youth League is also responsible for guiding the activities of the Young Pioneers (for children below the age of 14).[2]

CYLC was historically seen as a vehicle that could promote the future careers of CCP officials, with these officials being collectively named the Tuanpai, also known as the Youth League Faction. Though prominent Youth League officials have held important posts within the CCP, most notably CCP general secretary Hu Jintao, the influence of the CYLC has decreased under CCP general secretary Xi Jinping, who has cut its budget.


Founded in May 1920, it was originally named as the Socialist Youth League of China.[3]: 17  While the CCP was officially established in July 1921, the Chinese Socialist Youth League was organized prior to the CCP's establishment. In May 1922, the 1st National Congress (simplified Chinese: 全国代表大会; traditional Chinese: 全國代表大會; pinyin: Quánguó Dàibiǎo Dàhuì) of the League was held under the leadership of the CCP,[3]: 17  and therefore became a unified organization in China. In the 3rd National Congress in January 1925, the Chinese Socialist Youth League was renamed as the Chinese Communist Youth League. After the Second Sino-Japanese War, in order to adapt to the new social and political situation, it was officially renamed as the Chinese New Democracy Youth League in April 1949.[citation needed]

Later in May 1957, its name as the Chinese Communist Youth League was resumed, historically combining the congresses of all three leagues (the Chinese Socialist Youth League, the Chinese Communist Youth League as well as the Chinese New Democracy Youth League).[citation needed]

Prior to the Cultural Revolution, the CYLC was a major mass organization which had an important role in political mobilization and implementing party-state policies.[3]: 17  During the Cultural Revolution, the CYLC was accused of revisionism and stopped operating in 1966.[3]: 17  Various local CYLC operations began resuming after the end of the Cultural Revolution and the CYLC was resumed national operations in 1978.[3]: 17 

Following the Mao era, the CYLC has been a major path to CCP membership.[3]: 21  This became especially true after the 1982 establishment of the "Recommendation of Outstanding CYL Members" system, which emphasized that those under the age of 28 who wish to join the CCP should be recommended by the CYLC.[3]: 21 

In 1988, reformist Chinese policymakers proposed a project to loosen CCP control of the CYLC and make the organization more independent.[3]: 18  However, CCP leadership set aside the reform proposal following the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre.[3]: 18 

Also in the late 1980s and in an attempt to increase the relevance of the CYLC and make it more "responsive",[4] the CYLC diversified its activities, beginning to organize classes for CCP applicants and hosting leisure activities in addition to the CYLC's political activities.[3]: 37–38  Along with university student unions, the CYLC began hosting on-campus cultural activities like singing, poetry, and sports competitions.[3]: 38  In 1989, the CYLC's central body organized a national "challenge cup" science competition, which was later also adopted by various universities.[3]: 38 

After the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, community service activities expanded in the 1990s.[3]: 38  In 1993, the CYLC started The Young Volunteers Operation.[3]: 18  Through this program, the CYLC has channeled millions of volunteers into poverty alleviation, educational assistance, and environmental protection projects.[3]: 18  The CYLC has also mobilized university student volunteers to participate in the China Youth Development Foundation's Project Hope, which focuses on educational assistance to primary school children in China's least developed regions.[3]: 38 

In 2003, the CYLC started the “plan for university graduates voluntary service to the West” (daxuesheng zhiyuan fuwu xibu jihua, 大学生志愿服务 西部计划) as part of its effort to promote volunteer service.[3]: 57  If accepted into the program after passing an exam, university graduates work for three years in underdeveloped parts of western China.[3]: 57 

The Communist Youth League has contributed a number of top echelon leaders of the CCP-led government of the People's Republic of China. The proliferation of leaders with a Youth League background has led to the informal name "Tuanpai" (abbreviation for "Youth League faction") being used to describe certain members of the leadership at different times. The first "Youth League faction" was represented by Hu Yaobang.[citation needed] The second "Youth League faction" is represented by Hu Jintao. While there is no direct political lineage between the two Hus, Hu Jintao's administration formally elevated the memory of the earlier Hu. In 2005, the 90th anniversary of Hu Yaobang's birth, a new museum and a series of commemorative books and television programs were launched. During the Hu Jintao era, CYLC membership expanded as the organization recruited broadly.[3]: 39 

During the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the CYLC mobilized 1.7 million volunteers to assist with the Olympics.[3]: 130 

The death of the son of Ling Jihua and Gu Liping, a couple associated with the Communist Youth League, may have tarnished the reputation of the organization as a path to power.[5]

Current CCP general secretary Xi Jinping has sought to reduce the prominence of the CCP's youth wing, stating that "All they [cadres] can do is just repeat the same old bureaucratic, stereotypical talk".[6][7] Political commentators have noted that the diminishing of the Tuanpai curtailed the influence of former paramount leader Hu Jintao, solidifying Xi's own political faction.[7] Following Xi's more critical stance of the CYLC, the CYLC's membership has decreased.[3]: 22 

CYLC's budget was cut, dropping from around 700 million yuan ($96 million) in 2012 to 260 million yuan ($40 million) in 2021, while its membership dropped from 90 million to 74 million in the same period.[8][9] Xi effectively closed the Central School of China Communist Youth League, folding it into the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.[7] He also effectively demoted Qin Yizhi, first secretary of the CYLC in 2017.[10] During the Xi-era, the CYLC's rule that non-cadre over the age of 28 must leave the organization has been more strictly enforced.[3]: 22 

At the CYLC's centennial in May 2022, Xi described the organization as the "party's loyal assistant and reliable reserve force."[3]: 16  The same year, the CYLC exclaimed that "[e]xtreme feminism has become a poisonous tumour on the Internet."[11]


Communist Youth League headquarters

The CYLC is active at every political level of China, and most active in social structures which include many young people like schools and universities.[3]: 16  By the end of 2002, there were approximately 210,000 committee members of fundamental organizations. 2021 estimates put the number of Youth League members at over 81 million.[12]

CYLC local groups (including those which are associated with institutions like universities or state-owned enterprises) send a total of 1,500 representatives to the CYLC National Congress, which is held every five years.[3]: 143  The National Congress in turn elects the CYLC Central Committee, which is composed of 200 representatives and 120 alternates.[3]: 143  Smaller CYLC congresses and committee plenums are also held.[3]: 143 

The CYLC directly manages the All-China Youth Federation.[3]: 19  The All-China Youth Federation in turn serves as a consultative body to the CYLC.[3]: 19  The All-China Youth Federation is also an umbrella organization which includes the Young Pioneers of China, among other youth-focused groups.[3]: 19  The CYLC is also the parent entity of other youth-related projects, such as the China Youth Development Fund.[3]: 19  The CYLC supervises university student societies through one of its departments.[3]: 36 


The CYLC's offices and staff salaries are paid for with government funding.[3]: 126  It also collects membership dues on a sliding scale depending on a member's salary.[3]: 126 

Membership and training[edit]

Officially defined as a "reserve force" for the CCP, the CYLC's purpose is to recruit and train young people who may become future party members and officials.[3]: 21  In addition to the CYLC members it trains for future involvement in the party, the CYLC employs young party cadre who lead the organization, providing them with experience for subsequent leadership roles in other aspects of the party-state.[3]: 21 

Joining the league is relatively easy.[13]: 65  Prospective members must submit an application statement and be approved by the local branch, which do not typically take a highly selective stance.[13]: 65  All CYLC members and their personal details are tracked in a database known as Smart League Building.[9]

By the end of 2023, the CYLC had 74.167 million members and 4.316 million organizations throughout China.[14] Among them, there were 3,000 local committees, 193,000 grassroot committees, 1.905 million organizations at schools with 38.245 million members, 910 thousand enterprise organizations with 7.21 million members, 360 thousand government organizations with 4.419 million members, 942 thousand organizations at subdistricts, townships, communities, and administrative villages with 21.737 million members, and 199 thousand organizations in social organizations and other fields with 2.556 million members.[14]


CYLC's newspaper is the China Youth Daily.[3]: 114 

As it lost political influence under Xi, CYLC has started to increase its presence on social media, appealing to nationalism and attacking foreign brands in China accused of misbehavior.[8] The social media accounts of the CYLC have engaged in harassment of foreign journalists, including during the 2021 Henan floods when the Communist Youth League asked its social media followers to locate and report the location of a BBC News journalist on assignment covering the story. They also accused foreign reporters in general of slandering China with their reporting about the floods.[15] CYLC has also spread COVID-19 disinformation and attacked Chinese dissidents.[9]


In 1987, the first anthem of CYLC was composed.

  • "Glorious! Communist Youth League of China"
  • 光荣啊!中国共青团

(Guāngróng a! Zhōngguó gòngqīngtuán)

Simplified Chinese (with Pinyin) English lyrics

光荣啊(Guāngróng a,)中国(zhōngguó)共青团(gòngqīngtuán,)
光荣啊(Guāngróng a,)中国(zhōngguó)共青团(gòngqīngtuán.)

We are the flowers of May,
Who embrace the age of youth;
We are the rising sun,
Who ignites the future with life.
The torch of The May Fourth Movement,
Aroused the awakening of the nation.
A magnificent career,
Inspires us to carry on the future.
Glorious! Communist Youth League of China,
Glorious! Communist Youth League of China.
Mother named us with communism.
We are creating a new world.

List of First Secretaries[edit]

Chronology of National Congresses[edit]

  • 1st National Congress (Socialist Youth League): 5–10 May 1922
  • 2nd National Congress (Socialist Youth League): 2–25 August 1923
  • 3rd National Congress (Socialist Youth League): 26–30 January 1925
  • 4th National Congress: 10–16 May 1927
  • 5th National Congress: 12–16 July 1928
  • 6th National Congress (1st Congress, New Democratic Youth League): 11–18 April 1949
  • 7th National Congress (2nd Congress, New Democratic Youth League): 23 June–2 July 1953
  • 8th National Congress (3rd Congress, New Democratic Youth League): 12–25 May 1957
  • 9th National Congress: 11–29 June 1964
  • 10th National Congress: 16–26 October 1978
  • 11th National Congress: 20–30 December 1982
  • 12th National Congress: 4–8 May 1988
  • 13th National Congress: 3–10 May 1993
  • 14th National Congress: 19–25 June 1998
  • 15th National Congress: 22–26 July 2003
  • 16th National Congress: 10–13 June 2008
  • 17th National Congress: 17–21 June 2013
  • 18th National Congress: 26–29 June 2018[18]
  • 19th National Congress: 19–22 June 2023[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ristaino 1988, p. 420.
  2. ^ Ristaino 1988, p. 421.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak Doyon, Jérôme (2023). Rejuvenating Communism: Youth Organizations and Elite Renewal in Post-Mao China. University of Michigan Press. doi:10.3998/mpub.12291596. ISBN 978-0-472-90294-1.
  4. ^ Graziani, Sofia (30 December 2021). "Between Chinese Youth and the Party: The Communist Youth League's Revival and Adjustments in the Early Post-Mao Era". The Journal of the European Association for Chinese Studies. 2: 83–125. doi:10.25365/jeacs.2021.2.83-125. ISSN 2709-9946.
  5. ^ "PREMIER LEAGUE: After fatal Ferrari crash, careers are stalled, group loses power". The Asahi Shimbun. 5 March 2013. Archived from the original on 8 March 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  6. ^ Gan, Nectar (23 September 2017). "Latest Xi Jinping book gives clues on decline of Communist Party's youth wing". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 14 October 2017. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Nakazawa, Katsuji (25 September 2017). "Xi silences once-powerful youth league and former president's protege". Nikkei Asian Review. Archived from the original on 14 October 2017. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  8. ^ a b Pollard, Martin (26 October 2022). "China's Xi deals knockout blow to once-powerful Youth League faction". Reuters. Retrieved 24 May 2023.
  9. ^ a b c "Communist rappers are luring young disgruntled Chinese". The Economist. 2 October 2023. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 4 October 2023.
  10. ^ "Xi Jinping has been good for China's Communist Party; less so for China". The Economist. 14 October 2017. Retrieved 3 October 2023.
  11. ^ Chen, Yifan; Gong, Qian (23 January 2023). "Unpacking 'baby man' in Chinese social media: a feminist critical discourse analysis". Critical Discourse Studies: 1–18. doi:10.1080/17405904.2023.2169726. ISSN 1740-5904.
  12. ^ Tsimonis, Konstantinos (2021). The Chinese Communist Youth League: Juniority and Responsiveness in a Party Youth Organization. Amsterdam University Press. ISBN 978-90-485-4264-2.
  13. ^ a b Li, David Daokui (2024). China's World View: Demystifying China to Prevent Global Conflict. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0393292398.
  14. ^ a b "全国共有共青团员7416.7万名" [There are 74.167 million members of the Communist Youth League nationwide.]. People's Daily. 3 May 2024. Retrieved 19 May 2024.
  15. ^ Wade, Stephen (2 August 2021). "Beijing Games: Sports coverage fine, other things maybe not". Associated Press. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  16. ^ "He Junke was elected the first Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League. | waonews". Archived from the original on 4 July 2018. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  17. ^ "阿东任共青团中央书记处第一书记 最年轻正部级领导". Lianhe Zaobao. 31 May 2023.
  18. ^ "micro-blog of Communist Youth League of China". Archived from the original on 2 July 2018. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  19. ^ "China's Communist Youth League wraps up national congress". Xinhua News Agency. 23 June 2023. Retrieved 2 July 2023.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]