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'Three Represents' and China's Youth: Using the Internet to Manage Social Change
Unformatted Document Text:  1 Abstract This article explores the relationship between the Chinese Government’s new social policy, the Internet and youth development. Implementation of the Three Represents Theory indicates that the Chinese Government is moving from a directive, top-down approach to managing social development and towards a more consultative, interactive style using the Internet as a new medium to access and respond to youth cultural ruptures in the fabric of Chinese society. The article draws on the emerging genre of ‘grunge and shock’ literature to illustrate the types of cultural ruptures concerning the Government in relation to the direction of youth development. Responding to the change, the Government has begun to utilize several characteristics of the Internet to efficiently consult and interact with youth by linking into the popularity of this controlled new media technology to access youth and provide immediate information on issues. The result is that the Government is potentially more responsive to emerging youth issues relating to structures, values and roles in China’s changing social milieu. ‘Three Represents’ and China’s Youth: Using the Internet to Manage Social Change As China pushes ahead with economic reforms and continues to manage social change, the task of defining what it means to be a young person in China is taking on a new urgency. Over half the population, or more than 630 million youth, are between 15 to 35 years and their impact on economic and social development of China over the next 20 years can not be overstated (Time Asia, 2000). Yet, this chronological framework does not adequately describe what is far from a homogenous populace. There exist a number of key political, economic, social, cultural and technical forces that militate against the smooth implementation of social development initiatives and gradual change in Chinese society. These include changes to social development policy (‘spiritual culture’ to ‘Three Represents Theory’); diffusion, adoption and regulation of new media technologies (i.e. the Internet); unemployment; a growing disparity between rural and urban living and a increasing diversity within the cohort of urban youth in terms of age, expectations, needs, education, income, career and wealth. This disparity between urban youth cohorts is a major concern for the Government because it adds complexity to designing and integrating social change programs cohesively into the social fabric of urban Chinese society to benefit all stakeholders. The older youth cohort emerged from the common background of having been born into the turbulent latter years of the Cultural Revolution, but grown through adolecence in the early economic reforms years of Deng Xiaoping. This cohort has ‘experienced life as a series of contradictions, uncertainties and disappointments … While

Authors: Weber, Ian.
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1
Abstract
This article explores the relationship between the Chinese Government’s new social policy, the
Internet and youth development. Implementation of the Three Represents Theory indicates that the
Chinese Government is moving from a directive, top-down approach to managing social
development and towards a more consultative, interactive style using the Internet as a new medium
to access and respond to youth cultural ruptures in the fabric of Chinese society. The article draws on
the emerging genre of ‘grunge and shock’ literature to illustrate the types of cultural ruptures
concerning the Government in relation to the direction of youth development. Responding to the
change, the Government has begun to utilize several characteristics of the Internet to efficiently consult
and interact with youth by linking into the popularity of this controlled new media technology to access
youth and provide immediate information on issues. The result is that the Government is potentially
more responsive to emerging youth issues relating to structures, values and roles in China’s changing
social milieu.
‘Three Represents’ and China’s Youth:
Using the Internet to Manage Social Change
As China pushes ahead with economic reforms and continues to manage social change, the task of
defining what it means to be a young person in China is taking on a new urgency. Over half the
population, or more than 630 million youth, are between 15 to 35 years and their impact on
economic and social development of China over the next 20 years can not be overstated (Time Asia,
2000). Yet, this chronological framework does not adequately describe what is far from a
homogenous populace. There exist a number of key political, economic, social, cultural and technical
forces that militate against the smooth implementation of social development initiatives and gradual
change in Chinese society. These include changes to social development policy (‘spiritual culture’ to
‘Three Represents Theory’); diffusion, adoption and regulation of new media technologies (i.e. the
Internet); unemployment; a growing disparity between rural and urban living and a increasing
diversity within the cohort of urban youth in terms of age, expectations, needs, education, income,
career and wealth.
This disparity between urban youth cohorts is a major concern for the Government because
it adds complexity to designing and integrating social change programs cohesively into the social
fabric of urban Chinese society to benefit all stakeholders. The older youth cohort emerged from the
common background of having been born into the turbulent latter years of the Cultural Revolution,
but grown through adolecence in the early economic reforms years of Deng Xiaoping. This cohort
has ‘experienced life as a series of contradictions, uncertainties and disappointments … While


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