#YFChina: Policy & Ping Pong in Peking
The third day of the Young Fabians delegation took us to the Chinese Youth University of Political Studies. We started the day with Professor Hou Xin, Vice Dean of the University’s School of Social Work and Junaed Khan, Young Fabians, speaking about social work. The former gave an insight into the marginalised communities in China and in particular the 'floating population' (economic migrants) and the latter gave the case for social work in the UK.
Hou Xin mentioned that social work was a recent development in China as it has only come into being in the last 30 years. It was interesting to note the community emphasis China base around social care, committing to a bold aspiration of having 1.4m social workers by 2020. Other policy ideas also emerged, such as having one social worker per street.
This is a prime example of differences between Western culture and Chinese culture as the UK model of social work is focused on the individual, whereas policies such as this come from the communal perspective.
Hon Xin also highlighted the many different cultures within China, the challenges this poses in ensuring everyone has adequate support and the difference in economic prosperity between Western China and the major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. She explained that people, much like in the UK, head for the cities for better opportunities.
We also learn about the 55m 'leftover' children, who are left to be looked after by their grandparents whilst their own parents leave their home to find employment elsewhere.
Victoria Desmond, Young Fabian and founder of Labour Campaign for Mental Health, asked what policies were in place for people who suffer from severe mental health issues. It became apparent that, much like other countries, the stigma around mental health is still prevalent in China and most people we spoke with seemed hesitant to engage with discussion on mental health, highlighting again potential similarities with the UK.
Dr Song Yanhui, who specialises in Youth Study and I, Unsa Chaudri, led the afternoon session on Generation Y (people born between 1980 and early 1990s) and Young Development.
Culture and personal identity were recurring themes and we were surprised to learn that the ice bucket challenge, Gangnam Style and Downton Abbey were so popular in both countries.
We learnt we had much in common with the young people in China and one of the students made a rather poignant remark about the perception older people tend to have. He said that Generation Y are not lazy or self-centred we just have different opinions to our parents, we value different things - but that does not mean we are any less.
The discussion soon moved on to the political involvement young people have and after describing the potential ways to become involved in the UK, the Chinese students wondered if they too can actually have an influence on policy.
Participation in politics for young people in China resonated with the thoughts many of us have in the UK. Young people were statistically more likely to take part if it was online, we are, after all, known as the technology generation.
We were then able to glimpse into the future of Chinese technology and social media through visiting New Space, an exciting innovation hub.
The day came to a close with a dinner with many influential guests including Madam Deng Yaping, six time Wolrd Champion and four time Olympic Champion table tennis player and a leading figure in the All China Women's Federation, Wu Jiasong the President of the Youth Federation and Wang Shengjiang, CEO of New Space.
We were all very thankful for our invite and it is safe to say everyone enjoyed a very delicious (hen hao chi) meal.
By Unsa Chaudri is a Young Fabians member.