China-EU people-to-people exchange shows 'youthful vigour'

The 'vigour' and 'passion' of young people can help further comprehensive EU-China relations, says He Junke.

By He Junke

18 Mar 2014

From the ancient 'silk road' to the 'book of the marvels of the world', the interaction between Chinese and European civilisations dates far back into history. In recent years, China-EU relations have gained new momentum, seizing opportunities for growth with youthful vigour.

A decade of China-EU comprehensive strategic partnerships has led to cooperation in the political arena, trade and finance, people-to-people exchange, and other areas. This cooperation sets an exemplary model for harmonious coexistence and joint development between partners at different stages of economic development, with different social systems, histories and culture.

Youth, a social group featuring openness and creativity, provides a wealth of good-will ambassadors and forerunners of bilateral cooperation. Youth exchange is a well-established and crucial component of people-to-people relations, providing new vigour for their further development.

The All-China youth federation has established long-standing strong relations with the European commission's directorate general for education and culture (DG EAC), the European youth forum, as well as a range of youth organisations from across Europe. Together, we have launched a variety of youth exchange activities.

The 2011 China-EU year of youth, the first ever bilateral 'thematic' year since the establishment of diplomatic relations, gave a burst of youthful vigour to our relations. The creativity and enthusiasm that young people have brought to relations was celebrated and reinforced through more than 120 exchange activities organised over the year, with a very significant impact.

These covered volunteering, youth involvement, youth work, youth employment and entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity, and other key areas of exchange. More than 10,000 youth representatives from China and the EU were physically involved in these activities, while more than 160,000 others engaged via internet forums, microblogs and other new media instruments. News of these activities reached an estimated 100 million young people in China and Europe.

Within the framework of the China-EU high-level people-to-people exchange mechanism, the All-China youth federation and the DG EAC have established the China-EU youth policy dialogue mechanism and the exchange platform for youth organisations. Together with the European youth forum, the All-China youth federation also holds a regular China-EU youth organisations development forum, among other joint activities. All of these activities have achieved significant results. To date, some 500 youth organisations from the two countries have participated in dialogue and exchange activities, contributing positively to people-to-people exchange.

Every aspect of the various youth exchange activities has been characterised by the vigour that is intrinsic to youth, exemplified in the passion of the debate, the physical exertion of the volunteer activities, and the reluctant farewells. Respect, tolerance, understanding and friendship have marked each event. These qualities form the basis of our friendship and a great source for energy to further relations.

Aristotle once wrote, "The work of man is achieved in accordance with practical wisdom and moral virtue". Confucius also maintained that "I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand". Looking forward, the All-China youth federation wishes to build on the shared commitment and vision of the youth in China and the EU, to step up cooperation with our European partners, and encourage more young people and youth organisations to participate in youth exchange activities. I am convinced that engaging the young generation will greatly contribute to a mutual comprehensive strategic partnership.

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