Young Chinese have the right to dream

Updated: 2013-03-04 01:05

By Fu Jing (China Daily)

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When I was about to leave China Daily's Brussels bureau for Beijing to cover the annual session of National People's Congress, I had an enlightening interview with professor Paul De Grauwe, the European Commission president's former economic policy adviser. Toward the end of the interview, he told me he was extremely worried about Europe's massive youth unemployment.

"If our politicians don't bring economic growth and jobs, some young people, especially those in southern Europe, will become a lost generation," De Grauwe said.

When I arrived in Beijing, I was eager to speak with as many people as possible to find good stories for my paper. Many people are interested in the reshuffling of governmental personnel and responsibility, with new national lawmakers flocking to Beijing this week to determine who will take the top leadership positions to run the country. Some people look forward to more iron-fisted measures against corruption. And some are expecting policies to bridge income disparities.

But what made the biggest impact on me was a conversation with 23-year-old Yang Cui, who will earn a master's degree at China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing this summer and has now joined millions of graduates in the job market.

"What I need now is a decent job," Yang said, adding that she expects the new NPC deputies to elect people who can help expand the opportunities.

"A decent job can help me start a satisfactory career and support my parents."

Yang expressed her hopes for the coming decade at a recent dinner with a group of volunteers while the annual sessions of China's national legislators and political advisers have continued the national leadership transition since the 18th National Congress of Communist Party of China in November.

I knew Yang well, because we have both been involved in a charitable education project for poor and disaster-hit regions since 2008. She is from a poor village in Sichuan province, and her parents have worked for years as construction workers, going from city to city to further Yang's education.

Talented and hardworking, Yang recently passed the lawyer certificate examination. This, paired with a master's degree from a prestigious university, means it should not be too difficult for her to find a job.

But she has found herself moving from one job fair to another, and she said competition is tougher than expected.

The obstacles are limited job offers, a smaller quota of Beijing residence permits and being a woman. And even when all these obstacles are overcome and she lands a job in Beijing, Yang will be faced with another challenge — sky-high home prices, which she says have killed her dream of owning an apartment in Beijing in the next 10 years.

Even renting an apartment is a major burden.

"And I need marriage and a family, not to mention having a responsibility to support my parents, who are still diligently working as migrants," said Yang with tears in her eyes. "If there is no good job, the coming decade will be bleak for me."

Hearing this, my mood became heavy. Her experience reminds me of economic adviser De Grauwe's warning of a lost generation in Europe.

Many young people such as Yang are ready to work for a better future with every fiber of their being. But they need to have opportunities.

Many Chinese have been inspired by new Party leader Xi Jinping's idea of the "China dream". The dream for many like Yang Cui who are from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds is to have opportunities to earn their daily bread, stand on their own two feet and live a decent life.

They deserve those opportunities and dreams. Chinese leaders should not just promise but also strive to deliver. The reason is very simple: they can not afford to see the hopes of many Chinese such as Yang Cui fade and leave them to face the same difficult life as their parents.

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