Carry On the Legacy of the May 4th Movement, and Be Worthy of the New Era

Xi Jinping: The Governance of China III Updated: 2021-12-30

Carry On the Legacy of the May 4th Movement, and Be Worthy of the New Era* 

April 30, 2019 

Under the leadership of the Party, we have opened up the path of Chinese socialism, formed its theoretical framework, established its system, developed its culture, and brought it into a new era. The Chinese people have unprecedented confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of Chinese socialism, and the prospects for national rejuvenation have never been brighter. 

In the new era, the theme and direction of the Chinese youth movement and the mission of Chinese youths are to uphold the leadership of the CPC, and work along with other people to realize the Two Centenary Goals and the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.

Youth is the most active and energetic element among all forces in society. You are the hope and future of our country. Today, in the most promising period of the Chinese nation, young Chinese are endowed with rare opportunities to achieve things, and the mission to shoulder great responsibilities. In this new era, you should continue to carry forward the spirit of the May 4th Movement and take on your mission to realize national rejuvenation. You should meet the expectations of our Party and our people, be worthy of the trust of the nation, and live up to the demands of this great era.

First, Chinese youths in the new era should establish great ideals. 

The ideals and beliefs of youths have a bearing on the future of a country. Young people with great ideals and firm beliefs are the driving force that builds an invincible nation. High ambitions can stimulate your potential to forge ahead, so that you will not drift aimlessly like a boat without a rudder. It is said that "a person who aspires to be a saint will become a saint; and a person who aspires to be a sage will become a sage."1 Young people have different life goals and career choices. But only when you integrate your goals with those of the nation and the people, advance with the times, and share the aspirations of the people will you live up to your values and realize the lofty goals of life. Disregarding the needs of the country and the interests of the people, those who are self-centered will find a narrower path ahead.

Young Chinese in the new era must have belief in Marxism, faith in Chinese socialism, and confidence in realizing the Chinese Dream. You must go out to the people, embrace the new era and the new world, and realize your ideals and beliefs in building your careers, so that the years of your youth will sparkle with innovation and creation. Second, Chinese youths in the new era should love our country.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen said that the biggest thing for a citizen is "knowing how to love one's country"2. Whoever does not love their country – or even worse, deceives and betrays their motherland – is a disgrace and has no place anywhere in the world. Love of our country, the feeling of devotion and sense of attachment to our motherland is a duty and responsibility for every Chinese. It is the foundation on which young Chinese in the new era can become winners in life. In contemporary China, the essence of patriotism is loving our country, our Party and socialism all and at the same time.

Young Chinese in the new era should follow the instructions and guidance of the Party, and show concern and affection for our country and our people. You should dedicate yourself to the country and the people, demonstrate patriotism with lifelong sincerity and drive, and let the great banner of patriotism fly high in your heart.

Third, Chinese youths in the new era must shoulder your responsibilities. 

The times call for responsibility, and our young people must take up the responsibility for national rejuvenation. As Lu Xun the great writer said, young people "have strength to spare; they can turn a dense forest into flat land, plant trees in the wilderness, and dig wells in the desert"3. In the new journey towards national rejuvenation, we need to respond to major challenges, guard against serious risks, overcome real obstacles, and resolve difficult problems. All these urgently demand the will to step forward in the face of difficulties. As long as young people are brave enough to shoulder responsibilities and fight hardships and risks, Chinese socialism will be full of vitality, potential and hope.

Young people must maintain your courage, fearing nothing and forging ahead in spite of difficulties and dangers. You should stand in the forefront and be the pioneers of national rejuvenation. There are people who are afraid to experiment and try out new things, or treat responsibilities as burdens and losses, or shirk their responsibilities and attend only to their own business. All such thoughts and acts are undesirable and those who entertain them will accomplish nothing and never be able to truly enjoy life.

Chinese youths must cherish this new era and grow with it. In the new era, you must work hard to perform on the vast stage of reform and opening up and on the journey to realizing the Chinese Dream. And you should endeavor to become morally, intellectually, physically, and aesthetically equipped to join and carry on the socialist cause.

Fourth, Chinese youths in the new era must work hard. 

Hard work paints a bright backdrop for a young life. As Mao Zedong said, "Should I have 200 years to spare, I will surely swim for 3,000 li (1,500 km)."4 The mission of national rejuvenation must be achieved through hard work, as must the ideals of life. Without an arduous popular struggle, carried out especially by generations of young people, there would have been neither the present new era of Chinese socialism nor a future in which we will realize national rejuvenation. Over thousands of years, the Chinese nation has suffered numerous hardships, but none of them could defeat us; instead, they have lifted our national spirit, willpower and strength. Today, our living conditions have improved, but we, especially our young people, must retain the spirit and fine tradition of hard work. There will definitely be daunting challenges and even perilous storms in the new journey towards national rejuvenation. The spirit of arduous struggle is especially needed during the process. Hard work is not just a ringing slogan; it is about doing small things, completing every task, and fulfilling every duty. The road of hard work will not be smooth, instead it will be cobbled with hardships and full of ups and downs. The strong can always rise from setbacks; they are never discouraged.

In the new era young Chinese must forge ahead as brave and devoted pioneers in the forefront of the times against all difficulties and obstacles, and work hard to blaze new trails, achieve successes and create miracles that will astonish the world. 

Fifth, Chinese youths in the new era must have remarkable abilities. 

Youth is a golden age for developing skills through hard work. "If you idle away your youth and achieve nothing, it's no good lamenting in old age."5

In this new era, knowledge updates quickly, the social division of labor is becoming more refined, and new technologies, models, and forms of business are emerging one after another. This not only provides a broad stage for young people to display your talents, but also raises new and higher requirements for your abilities. To achieve your ideals or to shoulder the mission of the times, young people must cherish and do justice to the prime of youth, study hard to acquire scientific knowledge, improve your capabilities, hone your skills, and keep up with new developments around the world in terms of thinking, vision, ideas, and level of understanding.

Chinese youths in the new era must have a stronger sense of urgency in learning, and work hard on studying the Marxist stance, viewpoint and methodology. You must master knowledge of science and culture and professional expertise. You must improve your attainment in humanities by educating yourselves and tempering your character through study. You must acquire more skills and become more professionally competent at work, so that you will be able to serve the people and make innovative and creative contributions to the country. 

Sixth, Chinese youths in the new era should temper your moral character.

A person cannot succeed without virtues. This makes morality essential. The Chinese nation has been trying to attain moral qualities that repose in the heights of excellence. To build China into a strong modern socialist country, we must enrich ourselves not only materially but culturally and ethically. Cultural and ethical progress is more lasting, more profound and more powerful. Young people must integrate sound moral appreciation and conscious moral development with active moral practice, to improve yourselves and maintain moral integrity. This way you will travel further in the correct direction on the path of life.

Faced with a complex and changing international landscape, young people must differentiate between truth and falsehood and keep to the right path, and never blindly follow what others say or do. Facing temptation from the outside world, you must remain resolute, strictly abide by rules, create a better life with hard and honest work, and never be opportunistic or become conceited. While enjoying the good times, you should remember those who fought to make the present possible and work to repay them. You should be grateful to the Party, the country, the society and the people. You are expected to go through hardships, understand what life entails, get to know people's concerns and real problems, and identify the true meaning and value of life and work.

In the new era young people must nurture and practice the core socialist values, draw nourishment from traditional Chinese virtues, learn from heroes and role models of the times, and enhance your moral integrity through introspection. You should recognize illustrious virtue, follow social ethics, and restrict personal desires, while guarding against temptations such as worship of money, self-indulgence, overly self-centered pursuits, and historical nihilism. You should aim high and look far to pursue a more lofty and fulfilling life, so that integrity and vitality will prevail throughout our society.

* Part of the speech at a conference marking the centenary of the May 4th Movement.


1 Wang Shouren: Rules for Students at Longchang (Jiao Tiao Shi Long Chang Zhu Sheng). Wang Shouren (1472-1529), better known as Wang Yangming, was a neo-Confucian philosopher and educator of the Ming Dynasty. 

2 Sun Yat-sen: "Speech at a Gathering to Celebrate the Founding of Guangdong No. 1 Female Normal School", Complete Works of Sun Yat-sen, Vol. VII, Chin. ed., People's Publishing House, Beijing, 2015, p. 597. 

3 Lu Xun: "Mentor", Complete Works of Lu Xun, Vol. III, Chin. ed., People's Literature Publishing House, Beijing, 2005, p. 59. 

4 Mao Zedong: "Annotations to Lines in Poems of Mao Zedong", Collected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. VIII, Chin. ed., People's Publishing House, Beijing, 1999, p. 364. 

5 Quan Deyu: "A Reflection on My Life" (Fang Ge Xing). Quan Deyu (759-818) was a writer and official of the Tang Dynasty.

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