The Chinese Communist Youth League
The Chinese Communist Youth League
Juniority and Responsiveness in a Party Youth Organization
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15.6 x 23.4 cm
Asian Studies
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Table of Contents
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Chapter 1: Introduction
Scope and importance of the study
The challenge: reversing the legacy of an uneasy relationship
Enter Hu Jintao: "Keep the Party Assured and the Youth Satisfied"
Beyond dependency: "Youth" as a junior political subject
Researching the League
Organization of the book
Chapter 1 references
Chapter 2: "Juniority" and the generational subordination of party youth organizations
Circumventing dependency: cadre agency and responsiveness
Youth leagues and generational politics
Generational subordination and juniority
Chapter 2 references
Chapter 3: The League on Campus
Joining the League
Grassroots League Committees and Cadres
League Activities on Campus
The View from Below: The League's Evaluation by Students
Chapter 3 references
Chapter 4: The League in the workplace
Locating "Youth" and the League in the Chinese workplace
Deregulated labor and League membership
"Building the League through building the Party"
The League's activities: between the party committee and the management
Serving and representing young employees
Chapter 4 references
Chapter 5: Training Youth Cadres
Organizational aspirations and personnel realities
The Central League School: training generalist cadres
The League School at the grassroots
Improving training at the local level
Personnel exchange and recognition programs
Chapter 5 references
Chapter 6 - In Search of Responsiveness
Youth Work Norms
Serving youth in practice
Relations with social organizations
Chapter 6 references
Conclusion: From Hu to Xi
The League as a dependent and junior organization
The League under Xi: factional considerations or a new mission?
Juniority beyond the League
Conclusion references

Reviews and Features

"Konstantinos Tsimonis’s new book is an important contribution to an understudied subject. [...] The volume also includes a very helpful discussion of the declining fortunes of the Youth League under Xi Jinping, who not only viewed the league as a bastion of factionalism – the so-called 'league faction' that provided a base of support for the Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao administration. [...] Fortunately, we have this excellent book by Tsimonis to enlighten us on why Hu’s reforms were doomed from the start."
- Stanley Rosen, University of Southern California, China Information 36 (1) (2022)

"Konstantinos D. Tsimonis’ book is an important and timely study that offers a crucial contribution to our understanding of Party-youth relations in contemporary China. [...] the book also addresses youth political organizations’ experience in the former socialist countries and in doing so develops an analytical framework that captures and also goes beyond the peculiarities of the Chinese case."
- Sofia Graziani, The China Journal, Vol. 88, July 2022

"This book adds valuable insights into the inner workings of the CYL in various institutions. It adds nuanced analysis on, for instance, the differences between students at elite universities and vocational colleges’ perceptions of and engagement with the CYL (Chapter 3). Tsimonis’ in-depth analysis of the concept of youth and the subordination of youth interests makes this book a valuable contribution to the study of China’s mass organisations and youth as a political subject under authoritarianism. Altogether, Tsimonis’ book is a solid contribution to the study of contemporary China and youth political participation and will undoubtedly be of interest to scholars and students in China studies, youth studies and political science more broadly."
- Rebekka Åsnes Sagild, European Journal of East Asian Studies 20 (2021)

"This book is overall of great relevance to anyone interested in Chinese youth, and state-society relations in contemporary China more broadly. And while the core of the book centers on the Hu Jintao era, the author develops in the introduction and conclusion exciting observations about the changes that took place under Xi Jinping."
- Jérôme Doyon, Journal of Chinese Political Science (2021)

"Overall, this book makes a major contribution to research on youth organisations and the status of youth in contemporary Chinese society. [...] The qualitative data and insights into this organisation will be useful for researchers who are interested in youth politics in China and political apathy among young people in authoritarian states in general."
- Zheyu Shang, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 74, Iss. 6

"This book is an excellent source for understanding the operation of the CYL under Hu Jintao’s leadership. Most of the other works on this subject are in Chinese, and their authors tend not to use field interviews, but rather to base their research on secondary or official sources."
- Wen-Hsuan Tsai, Pacific Affairs, Feb 2023

Konstantinos Tsimonis

The Chinese Communist Youth League

Juniority and Responsiveness in a Party Youth Organization

The Chinese Communist Youth League is the largest youth political organization in the world, with over 80 million members. Former Chinese President Hu Jintao was a firm supporter of the League, and believed that it could play a bigger role in winning the hearts and minds of Chinese youth by actively engaging with their interests and demands. Accordingly, he provided the League with a new youth work mandate to increase its capacity for responsiveness under the slogan 'keep the Party assured and the youth satisfied'. This original investigation of the hitherto-unexamined organization uses a combination of interviews, surveys and ethnography to explore how the League implemented Hu's mandate at both local and national levels, exposing the contradictory nature of some of its campaigns. By doing so, it also sheds light on the reasons for Xi Jinping's turn against the League during his first term in office.

The Chinese Communist Youth League: Juniority and Responsiveness in a Party Youth Organization develops the original concept of 'juniority' to capture the complex ways that generational power is institutionalized, alienating young people from official political processes, with significant implications for China's political development. The book will be of interest to researchers and students of Chinese politics, as well as to scholars of comparative youth politics and sociology.

Konstantinos Tsimonis

Dr Konstantinos Tsimonis is a Lecturer in Chinese Society at the Lau China Institute, King's College London.