As China has grown to become a global economic and political power, an equally dynamic change has taken place at home, where China’s youth are asserting new sensibilities within Chinese society. From the younger generation’s high levels of unemployment to its differing social values, consumption patterns and digital connectivity, China’s youth has the potential to continue transforming the country in striking ways. Recent research about China’s youth conducted by scholars from the Institute of Sociology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) has begun to explain how this generation will continue to influence Chinese society.
On April 24, the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution hosted a series of public panel discussions about the Chinese youth in collaboration with the CASS. These panels brought together leading Chinese and American scholars on youth issues to discuss topics concerning China’s youth including education, employment, internet behavior, consumption and political attitudes. In the keynote session, Martin Whyte discussed dynamic interaction between societal transformation and generational changes. In the first panel discussion, Li Chunling, Tian Feng and Zhu Di discussed the current state of youth socioeconomic mobility. In the final panel discussion, Shi Yunqing, Meng Lei and Lu Peng discussed the changes in youth behavior in a consumer-oriented digital era.