Chinese state-sponsored video raising country’s youth stirs online backlash

Published (HKT): 2021.05.05 05:45

A Youth Day speech shared by Chinese video-sharing site Bilibili has sparked a backlash from netizens despite its attempt to pay tribute to China’s younger generation, with some netizens questioning its purpose.

The video uploaded on Monday featured two student representatives who delivered a speech consolidated from articles written by 955 junior high students from 26 schools across mainland China on their views about their future. After amassing more than 4.47 million views and 14,000 comments, the video aroused heated discussion online.

The controversial speech topic centered on what kind of person they did not want to be in the future, because they had no idea what kind of person they wanted to be. It mentioned they did not want to become thorny, homogenous, inconspicuous, unsympathetic and unpatriotic.

“Those who want to see the future of China from us, dear parents and teachers, actually I don’t know what kind of person I want to be, but what I can share with you is what kind of person I don’t want to be,” the speech read.

Even though some netizens said they appreciated young people’s courage to express themselves, many others did not support the speech, saying that many of the students would end up becoming the people they disliked the most.

“This short film has made the original plain and innocent text look weird, and made me feel uncomfortable. The two students are not talking about their true thoughts, which is meaningless,” one netizen said.

“Who doesn’t want to be a good person? But reality doesn’t allow you to be one,” said another.The campaign was backed by the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s propaganda department and sponsored by several state-run media outlets, including the Global Times, the China Youth Daily and The Paper.

Youth Day, established to commemorate the 1919 May Fourth Movement, is a holiday celebrated annually on May 4 in mainland China in honor of young people aged above 14.

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