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An article by Zhou Changkui, Vice President of All-China Youth Federation,on The Parliament

Youth exchange brings together sections of our population that exhibits great dynamism, openness and innovation. Youth representatives and groups have always been natural goodwill ambassadors for our cultures and the pioneers of increased China-EU cooperation. These exchanges ensure an ongoing vitality in our relations and the promise of deeper understanding and cooperation to come.

In 2011, China and the EU held a joint “Year of Youth”. In 2014, the High-Level People-to-People Dialogue Exchange mechanism has provided means for youth organizations on both sides to build upon the success of that experience. The All-China Youth Federation and youth organizations from across the EU have organized a plethora of activities which have given new momentum to youth exchange between China and the EU. The nature and intensity of exchanges has developed bilateral youth relations into a sector that is interdisciplinary, multi-level and comprehensive.

The first major achievement is the new focus in the field of youth work, notably towards delivering practical results.

Due to accelerating globalization and greater access to internet, what the young people are fond of tends to converge. The All-China Youth Federation focuses on the commonality and actively promoted exchanges and cooperation between China and the EU in the field of youth work. Together with the European Commission we have established an expert seminar group which addresses youth policies and youth issues. We also conduct a regular youth organization development forum in partnership with the European Youth Forum, exchanging experiences in the areas of youth policy, youth development and youth organizations so as to facilitate practical cooperation.

The second achievement is the increasing number of young people participating in China-EU youth exchanges, across a growing range of areas.

With the support of the EU’s “Youth in Action” programme and the “China-EU Youth Friendship Partnership” programme of the All-China Youth Federation, we have actively encouraged youth organizations at all levels throughout China and the EU engage in exchanges. Since 2011, more than 500 youth organizations from the EU and China have participated. In order to attract more young people, we have been using new online media platforms such as Weibo (micro-blogs) and Wechat, extending the breadth and scope of China-EU youth exchange.

Thirdly, we have emphasized the quality of these exchanges, prioritizing projects which allow for in-depth exchange of ideas and the building of meaningful bonds between participants.

A Chinese proverb says that “the relations between nations depend on how close their peoples are; and the closeness of the people relies on the bonding of their hearts”. Realizing such bonds between Chinese and European youth is the aim of the All-China Youth Federation when it designs programmes on youth employment and entrepreneurship, volunteering opportunities, workshops for youth participation seminars, roundtables and field trips. This has provided young people from both sides with a platform for honest exchange, discussion and friendship.

Looking to the future, the All-China Youth Federation is keen to work closely with the EU to respond to the wishes of our youth and enhance China-EU cooperation. Our role is to encourage participation and help create and promote platforms for exchange. I trust that, thanks to the success of the second meeting of the Mechanism on China-EU High-Level People-to-People Dialogue, the Chinese and European youth will be united to drive forward our relations, and cultural exchanges between China and the EU will blossom.

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