Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, August 08, 2016

Look for new ways to identify future leaders

After the Cultural Revolution, the Communist Youth League became one of the primary routes to leadership in China. Its role is being changed.

China Reins In Communist Youth League, and Its Alumni’s Prospects
President Xi Jinping of China in effect wrote an epitaph to the shrunken influence of his predecessor and former rivals this week when the Communist Party announced major changes to its once-powerful Youth League…

The Communist Youth League served as a cradle for generations of Chinese leaders, who rose through it into the high ranks of the party. Mr. Xi’s predecessor as China’s top leader, Hu Jintao, was among the most prominent…

But a reorganization of the Communist Youth League laid out in the state news media on Tuesday indicated that its glory days as a finishing school for China’s political elite may have passed. The overhaul promised to shrink the Youth League’s central leadership, put it under firmer party control and return it to its grass roots to try to win over the country’s young people…

The prominence of Youth League experience in the résumés of many party officials has led some analysts to refer to a Youth League faction or clique, a coalition of cadres who came up through the organization, owed their loyalty to it and each other, and shared a political agenda that was vaguely populist…

The announced changes indicated that the Youth League’s alumni are unlikely to win many promotions into the topmost ranks when Mr. Xi and other leaders settle on a new national leadership lineup to be revealed late next year…

The Youth League traces its inception to the formation of the Chinese Communist Party in the early 1920s, to serve as a bridge to students, young workers and other potential inductees into the Communist revolution…

Since Mr. Xi came to power, he has assumed more influence than his recent predecessors. Meanwhile, officials who spent long parts of their careers in the league have languished…

Months before the changes to the Youth League were announced, the party’s discipline enforcement agency issued a long, unusually scathing account of problems in the organization, including an aloof leadership. In response, league leaders promised in April to “aggressively erase ‘aristocratic’ tendencies.”

The Youth League may still help to identify and nurture future party leaders, but they will have to demonstrate more hands-on experience…

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