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China’s Communist Youth League told to limit membership to elite pupils

A one-time launch pad for ­Communist Party rising stars has been told to rein in secondary school student membership as part of a sweeping overhaul of its operations.

Over the next three to five years, the Communist Youth League, which helped launch the political careers of former president Hu Jintao and Premier Li Keqiang, will cap membership at 30 per cent of final-year junior high school pupils and 60 per cent of high school pupils.

In effect, almost all mainland pupils can join the youth league’s ranks now.

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The orders from the league’s central committee and the Ministry of Education come after President Xi Jinping accused it of being aristocratic and losing touch with the “grass roots”. Some party media outlets also linked the league to various corrupt officials.

Shanghai University of Political Science and Law political scientist Chen Daoyin said the orders were part of the party’s push to consolidate its power by controlling membership from the outset.

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“The youth league is positioned as a reserve for party [members],” Chen said.

“Xi wants only the elite to join it and in turn make sure the members are elites and models. The path is for the elites to lead the masses.”

The new rules outlined in the “Implementation Guidelines on Secondary School Communist Youth League Reform”, call on the league to become an “advanced organisation” by strictly upholding the standard of youth league membership and improving the processing and quality of its ­applicants.

The league must also play a bigger role in guiding the politics and values of the pupils.

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Each school must designate an official in charge of youth league affairs and the school’s party organisation must be regularly briefed on youth league work, the rules said.

Officials with the league’s central committee and provincial branches must also spend at least 15 days a year in a secondary school and keep in close contact with at least 100 young teachers and students, according to the document.