“What Can Young People Do For The World” Chinese Girl’s Speech

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This speech is from the second season of Super Speaker, a speech competition show in China. In a speech titled “What Can Young People Do For The World”, Liu Yuanyuan’s call for China’s younger generations to bring about change in society and not be content with the status quo was praised by many Chinese netizens, while others viewed her idealism as too naive.

A copy on YouTube:

The following is the transcription of the speech:

“What Can Young People Do For The World”

I am a student in law school. In every single one of my courses, the professors have all said the same thing: “This is what the law stipulates, but in real life…”

In reality, life is really strange. In real life, honest people who respect the rules often live their entire lives unknown and in obscurity, while deceitful people gain both fame and wealth. So young people like me often have seemingly experienced elders tap our shoulders and tell us, “young person, you still do not understand.”

What I want to ask us young people is: what can you do for this world? There will come a day when bank presidents are members of the post-’90s generation, when business owners are post-’90s generation, when even the head of state is post-’90s generation. When all of society is occupied by the post-90s generation, I want to ask you post-’90s generation people, what do you want this society to be like?

I know not everyone can be the kind of person who stands at the forefront to decide the destiny of their country. You and I are all just ordinary nobodies, a small screw in the great machinery of society. When we were in school, our parents would constantly nag us to avoid doing anything that would impact our studies. After we graduated, we submitted resumes everywhere, anxious for a company to take us. During Chinese New Year, we are pressured to get married. Getting married and buying a house then requires us to spend the best 20 years of our youth to pay back our loans, so that every single young person is busy just staying alive, with no time to dream, no time to care about politics, no time to care about the environment, no time to care about the fate of the nation. How then can we have the energy to do something for this society? But later I discovered that there is still one thing that you and I can do, and this one thing is for our generation–as we grow older—to never, never become bad, to never become the adults you hated and despised when you were young.

If in the future you become a street peddler, then don’t sell food made with gutter oil, and don’t shortchange people. If in the future you become a factory boss, don’t cut corners and produce sub-standard products. Every single ordinary person being a good person in their position has a very, very serious implication, because every single one of us are born destined to change the world.

I am a student of law, and if in the future I am a just and fair judge, then this society will have one more good judge and become just a little better because of it. I hope everyone will remember that even if you have a million reasons to do evil, you should always maintain your personal integrity and standards, if for no other reason than you not being a beast, but a human being.

I hope even more that all of us post-’90s generation can all become one of those rare and precious young people who in their lives despise injustice, never blindly following the crowd, never bowing to convention, never abandoning their principles, never ever never forgo one’s convictions, who never ever loses hope in humanity.

So, my dear fellow post-’90s generation, if in the future those people again come up to you and say, “young person, don’t be discontent, you need to adapt to this society,” that is when you should be courageous, face them, and tell them: “I am not like you, I’m not here to fit into society, I’m here to change society.”

Comments on Sina Weibo:

舌尖上的湖南8:

I use to think the same way as her. When I saw her speech, I cried, felt a bit ashamed, and a bit moved.

手机用户3303094575:

Child, you are still young, don’t think about changing society or changing the system, you can only change yourself.

NBA天马行空NBA:

I can bet this show won’t survive for long in the Heavenly Kingdom, because the Communist Party is afraid of people like her who want to change this country’s politics, system, society, laws, and people’s livelihoods. It instead wants people to be immersed in the great, glorious and correct, prosperous and flourishing, singing and dancing, entertainment and amusement above all else, harmonious “Chinese dream”!

学良_33644:

The post-’80s generation failed, failed to change society, so it is up to you guys now.

Irene_09:

I am also a young person, also a member of the post-’90s generation. I hope this will not remain a speech that people merely upvotes. I hope after 10 years, 20 years, or perhaps even longer, this post-’90s generation will not look back and laugh at herself, and not feel helpless in her heart.

ansel52:

When people can no longer adapt to society, that is when society will change.

虚玄武之中星:

I’m waiting for the day she marries some high official or rich businessman, and then we’ll see if she still says this.

never董陆:

You came to change society? This is not America.

zdjdakin:

Judges! Big cases are decided by the leaders, small cases are decided by money. Still, I will still praise this post-’90s voice, as this world will ultimately be handed over to the post-’90s generation. (Why did the original post restrict commenting?)

赴生若梦:

You can’t change things at all. It will only bring you more blood and tears. Think about what happened 25 years ago.

大蠊-炼金术士:

I don’t want to see what she says, I want to see what she does. Years later, she may not even be Chinese anymore, saying she is unable to fit into Chinese society, and then goes off to America…

出国看病蔡强:

What this young person said is great. Her words should be able to wake up many people, not only young people, but also us so-called grown ups too.

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  • Irvin

    Whoever created this program never heard the phrase “talk is cheap! motherfucker!”.

  • Sum Ting Wong

    All I’m hearing is blah blah blah and blah.

  • Le chat

    There’s something very shallow and one-dimensional about it. I don’t think she knew half of the things she talked about.

  • KenjiAd

    I use to think the same way as her. When I saw her speech, I cried, felt a bit ashamed, and a bit moved.

    Aiya, I felt the same way. I wonder since when I started making excuses for doing something not quite right…

  • Amused

    Hahahaha, oh it’s going to be funny watching these current generations here struggle toward some semblance of adulthood :)

    • As several of the commenters have said above, “Talk is cheap!”
      I’ve formed friendships with several Chinese.
      I have noticed a change in the last 1-2 years. They have become much More traditional. What they used to dream of and desire has been pushed to the side in favor of whatever it is their parents want of them instead. Many of them only strive to make as much money as possible and long for an overpriced cave in a concrete jungle; they think means security, but actually translates to slavery.
      I feel badly for them, that they did not have the intestinal fortitude to live the life They wanted.
      I notice in China that many of the parents think they know what is best for their child instead of letting their child decide what is best.

      • Escalante

        What really saddens is the selective emphasis on what it means to be traditional and how “traditional” and “good” are synonymous with each other. I especially hate how parents send their kids to college for face or to be able to rake in big money on day, but they don’t let their kids make their own decisions after they just paid a lot of money for their children to be smarter than they ever were.

        • Children are an extension of the parents’ own ego and narcissism…so of course they know what is best for them.

          I am semi-serious, semi-joking with the comment above, but this is where good communications come into play. IMO, it is best to foster this early.
          I have never believed a parent should be an autocrat 100% of the time if they want their child to have the ability to make good decisions.
          At some point, you need to face the reality they are their own person and will have differing opinions/dreams/desires.

  • donscarletti

    The netizens remind me of the famous quote most often attributed to Edmund Burke:
    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

  • must touch brain

    So typical of the jaded and defeatist Chinese netizens. Don’t they know that it’s their government who wants them to think this way? How many times must i hear Chinese people say, “没有用” (It’s no use)? I admire her courage to make such valid points before the nation and particularly the Chinese government. She’ll be lucky if she doesn’t get disappeared.

    • Ken Morgan

      Maybe because it is no use? in the free democracy (stop laughing) of the UK I campaigned and tried to change many things. Nobody listened, members of Parliament did not listen and simply did whatever the people who paid the bribes to do. Case in point Iraq war, big demonstration was trumped by big bribes paid to Labour/

      If we can’t change anything in a democracy…

      • Dinosaurs, dinosaurs everywhere !

      • KenjiAd

        She is not advocating any political change though. Here’s what she says.

        But later I discovered that there is still one thing that you and I can do, and this one thing is for our generation–as we grow older—to never, never become bad, to never become the adults you hated and despised when you were young.

        (emphasis mine)

        I also know that her goal is very difficult to achieve in a society where personal integrity tends to get ridiculed at best or even punished at worst, rather than being praised.

        • Joe

          But she is kind of implying he current generation is bad, which alone is kind of subversive

          • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

            Well it is. A generation of one child policy kids that got smothered by their parents. Either you have the extremely disciplined or the extremely spoiled. There’s gotta be some middle ground.

        • don mario

          if she was advocating political change this wouldn’t even be a story.

      • must touch brain

        So we should all just give up?

        • Ken Morgan

          I’m not sure what to do, as if you’re the lone one trying to stop the tide people will call YOU the fool.

          • Alex Dương

            I’m not British, but of course I can relate as an American on the subject of the Iraq war. I think one of the reasons (not the only one) why the Republicans lost the 2008 Presidential election is because the country as a whole was tired of war and had no interest electing someone who wanted us to keep staying in Iraq indefinitely. So you shouldn’t give up.

          • must touch brain

            I remember that too.

          • don mario

            that worked out pretty well right? america stopped all that warring business after that! people power! democracy!

          • Alex Dương

            I’m a bit confused as to why you’re being sarcastic here considering that as I recall it, your previous comments often berate the Chinese for not being democratic.

          • don mario

            yea you are confused. criticising chinas system and our own western system for being un democratic is more or less the same thing. they are both corrupt systems.

            do you not see the irony in your post? the country was tired of war so through the power of supposed democracy (which is actually an illusion) they have voted another government into power….who are still at war all these years later with no plans to stop any time soon.

          • Alex Dương

            I think it’s pretty dangerous to believe that our systems are “more or less the same.” No, our system is not perfect, and if you want to criticize us for bombing Libya and Syria, among others, do so. But it’s a big stretch to go from an imperfect system to the two being “more or less the same.”

            I’m not a big fan of Obama – I voted third-party in 2012 – but if the alternative were a McCain administration, then we’d probably have bombed Libya and Syria while maintaining a presence in Iraq. You may say that’s not a big difference. I agree it isn’t, but it’s still a difference, and it’s something you’re not going to see in China.

          • don mario

            i never said they are more or less the same systems. i said said being critical of them is more or less the same.

            what sense would it make to not be critical of our western democracy just because it is labelled as a democracy?

            its still a corrupt system as chinas is. so both of them are up for critique.

          • Alex Dương

            I misread your comment then. It seemed to me like you were saying they were more or less the same, especially since you said that they are “both corrupt.”

            I didn’t say you couldn’t or shouldn’t criticize your country’s system, mine, or ours more generally. But don’t be cheap. Yes, we continued to bomb countries in Middle East / North Africa after 2008. You can definitely criticize us for that. But that doesn’t mean democracy is fake or a joke.

          • don mario

            no problem then.

            yea as i am a brit i have kind of lost all hope of any true democracy existing in this day and age.

          • must touch brain

            I can totally relate to that until others start to praise you for your effort and often join the cause. Who cares what the majority thinks? They are usually the followers who can’t think for themselves without worrying how their peers will view them.

        • don mario

          we should all wake up and stop being slaves to shit self interested government that are doing nothing for us.. that goes for the entire planet.

      • Gordon Gogodancer

        This reminds me of a French comedian who said: ” Communism is: Shut the fuck up! Democracy is: Keep on talking! “

      • don mario

        its the same the world over. everyone is under control however the chinese really know they got no hope. we are starting to open our eyes to it in the west.

    • don mario

      china has gotten rid of dissidents and free thinkers for generations and generations.. its like a different type of Darwinism. not only the strong survive but only the most subservient and gutless survive.. in china.

  • Give this girl a Limp Bizkit album, and tell her all plastic garbage ends up in the sea

  • Guest

    I await the news about the BMW girl and her family that happened recently

    • Paul Schoe

      no elaboration?
      You can’t lift the curtain a little bit?

      • Guang Xiang

        Ah, this was my post and I deleted it because I was misinformed on when it took place. Looks like it’s just stuck there as Guest. That event happened 2 years ago.

        It was about a girl driving her BMW and bumping into a bicycle at a bicycle repair shop, scratching her car. She got out and demanded compensation from the repair guy, even starting pushing him. He accidentally got grease on her clothes during the argument so she demanded money to pay for cleaning her clothes. She then called her parents who both came and the father started beating the guy with a tire pump without assessing the situation first. They continued to publicly shame him in front of a crowd, saying his life is worth shit, etc. The crowd tried to reason with the family while the repair guy went inside to get some money. Turns out he came back with a knife and killed both parents outright, and lastly the girl as she was too shocked to run away.

        • Paul Schoe

          You certainly lifted the curtain. Thanks.
          What a story, feel so sorry for the bike guy.

  • BillBo

    The world wouldn’t get very far without idealists, but when he isn’t a kid any more, let’s hope life doesn’t smack this one around too hard….

  • diverdude7

    Deteriorata

    You are a fluke of the universe.
    You have no right to be here.

    Go placidly amidst the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof. Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep. Rotate your tires. Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself; and heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys. Know what to kiss – and when. Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do. Wherever possible, put people on hold. Be comforted, that in the face of all irridity and disillusionment, and despite the changing fortunes of time, there is always a big future in computer maintenance.

    You are a fluke of the universe.
    You have no right to be here.
    Whether you can hear it or not,
    The universe is laughing behind your back.

    Remember the Pueblo. Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate. Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI. Exercise caution in your daily affairs, especially with those persons closest to you… That lemon on your left, for instance. Be assured that a walk through the seas of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet. Fall not in love, therefore, it will stick to your face. Gracefully surrender the things of youth: the birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan – and let not the sands of time get in your lunch. Hire people with hooks. For a good time, call 606-4311, ask for Ken. Take heart in the deepening gloom that your dog is finally getting enough cheese. And reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot, it could only be worse in Milwaukee.

    You are a fluke of the universe.
    You have no right to be here.
    Whether you can hear it or not,
    The universe is laughing behind your back.

    Therefore, make peace with your god, whatever you perceive him to be: hairy thunderer or cosmic muffin. With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal, the world continues to deteriorate. GIVE UP!

    You are a fluke of the universe.
    You have no right to be here.
    Whether you can hear it or not,
    The universe is laughing behind your back.

  • MidniteOwl

    Ingredients for change: popular discontent… let’s say… Environmental pollution fucking up daily life. People have less and less to live for. Opportunity cost in standing up to the government decreases until tipping point where 0 fucks given. Group of disenfranchised people mass into a swell until they have a show down with… first hired thugs, second local police, third secret police, fourth military. But then again, they way Chinese society is… may be their will has already been broken. too consumed with the idea of money that they have nothing left to feel for their surroundings, for other people. 0 fucks given.

  • “You came to change society? This is not America.”(Quote from above)

    The vote in Scotland reinforced (for me) that people are the same all over the world and that the “West” is doomed. Many of the (older) Scots voted “YES” because they didn’t want to risk what they had and were adverse to risk/change.

    The Chinese believe their country is better than it was 10 or 20 years ago, so they will conform. They believe their future is bright, so don’t rock the boat that has brought them so far.

    The USA has been slipping for decades. There are many arguments to explain why, but it is clear we are the USS Titanic and radical change is NEEDED. Last thing we need in the “West” is business as usual.

    • Alex Dương

      Many of the (older) Scots voted NO because they didn’t want to risk what they had and were adverse to risk/change.

      I was under the impression that a “no” vote was also a vote for change, as London promised “devo max” if the Scots voted “no.”

      • Thanks – I meant “YES – I’ll change now

        • ESL Ninja

          No, you were right the first time with ‘NO’. Devo Max is just giving them the notion of independence without them actually taking on any risk.

    • Rick in China

      Isn’t there a scenario where it is in a person’s individual and personal family interest to avoid change, though?

      If life is feeling good – and things seem well – then risk aversion seems a logical route to me. It’s nice to think that change is always better, but for many…surely a measurable progress in their own lives is something they don’t want to risk on a proposed ‘new way of life’, or rather, “better the devil you know”…

      • Sure, that is Absolutely possible.
        That is probably why major changes aren’t made until things fall apart completely and then forced to address.

    • donscarletti

      That almost 45% of Scots wanted to leave the United Kingdom re-enforced the same thing to me.

      Nationalism used to be a tool for holding people together. The whole city of Edinburgh was built as a monument to British glory, with obelisks and arches and spires and memorials to the great feats done by great men. The Church of Scotland and Church of England, though one Presbyterian and one Episcopalian held protestant British together against the Catholic threat of the continent.

      Now the British have lost their empire and lost their faith, nationalism can only be drawn up over petty lines and only serves to pull people apart. The Union flag has been replaced in all corners by the crosses of St George and St Andrew and the Y Ddraig goch and the British people scattered into tribes.

      Meanwhile, during the same century China has gone from a crumbling mess of tributaries, fiefdoms and ceded territories to a centralised and linguistically unified nation state.

      • don mario

        are you seriously holding up modern china as a good example of nationalism?

    • don mario

      what difference would it of made if they voted yes? the yes vote was nothing new. the guy was offering some nationalistic BS and he has already stepped down, pretty obvious he was after glory. the problem with the west is that all the political partys are offering the same thing, there is no alternative. democracy and having any choice about who we are led by is an illusion.

      • I agree the current political choices in the “West” offer very little choice. The problem is the PEOPLE/Sheeple. Maybe it is time to bring out the Guillotines.
        I am not up to speed on all the parties involved in that election, but I believe in DeCentralized government (in most cases). More power closer to the local community gives each of us more influence.
        From what I saw, making a change offered less risk since they know the current system views them as “mushrooms”.
        If that change doesn’t go as planned, keep making changes. Unfortunately, constant change is a fact of life and it usually involves some degree of discomfort and a lot of work.

  • Rick in China

    “I am a student in law school.”

    then…

    “After we graduated, we submitted resumes everywhere, anxious for a company to take us.”

    Lawschool? Contradictions are praised in Chinese law schools, perhaps. Ghetto wanna-be inspirational speaker, perhaps…lawyer? Not one you want – because her fluff is obviously as the ‘wise elders’ told her: naive.

    • SongYii

      Yeah, probably better if no one in China ever aspires to anything greater.

      • Rick in China

        That’s not what I mean – I just mean that it sounds fake and hallow. Perhaps if I saw some context – like the great stuff she is doing *now* in her real life, her words would hold more meaning.. until then, it just rings like a soapbox warrior, then again, I think that’s the whole purpose of the show.

        • ESL Ninja

          She’s not talking about doing great stuff, she’s talking about not doing shitty stuff.

          I really don’t think you understood this article.

          • Rick in China

            “because every single one of us are born destined to change the world.”

            “I’m not here to fit into society, I’m here to change society.”

            Yes, you’re right, no implications of achieving greatness… “destined to change the world” — pfft. Maybe you didn’t understand *my* commentary – which implies that the article is all over the place, and while on first read it seems like a good inspiration, it’s actually scattered and contradictory in of itself. A graduate level speech it is not. I give her a B+.

          • ESL Ninja

            “because every single one of us are born destined to change the world.”

            “I’m not here to fit into society, I’m here to change society.”

            The first quote isn’t about her, it’s about everyone, the second quote is what she is telling people to say.

            I’m sure you just scanned the article looking for soundbites that you can argue against, what a pathetic life you must lead.

            The gist of her speech is that the younger generation is aware of the problems in society but powerless to change them at the moment. Only by keeping hold of those ideas until they are the generation in power can they actually make a change. If you didn’t understand that from reading it then you really are a complete moron.

          • Rick in China

            First of all, you said “she’s not talking about doing great stuff” – that’s exactly what my quotes supported, *doing great stuff*, not just “doing shitty stuff” as you so eloquently gleaned.

            “I’m sure you just scanned the article looking for soundbites that you can argue against, what a pathetic life you must lead.”

            Uh.. how about I’m sure you just scanned my comment looking for something you could argue against, and assume everything else in order to put yourself on a pedestal? “What a pathetic life you must lead.”

            The gist of her speech, ESL, is that everyone must do XYZ, and unless she is engaged in practicing what she preaches I take nothing from it other than fluff. Politicians put together great speeches (not to imply hers is), but unless they are acting on what they are telling other people to do or say, it holds no water. I do enjoy your litmus test for being a moron, essentially “read it and interpret it as I do or you’re a moron” – it really does help support your position.

          • ESL Ninja

            The gist of her speech is that young people should not give up on their ideals when they get older.

            As she is still a young person, how do you expect her to prove that she is sticking by her words?

          • Rick in China

            That’s exactly why I say it’s fluff. Until you’ve lived or accomplished that which you preach, you’ve no place to take the “do as I say, not as I do” approach to instructing, while maintaining any sort of credibility in the words. It’s fluff. It’s rhetoric. If you ask any single person, “should you give up your ideals when you get older?” I don’t think anyone would say “YES! Sell out!” — would they? So what the fuck is the point of this little tart giving some nonsensical speech that will serve no purpose other than hopefully win her some sort of speech contest and minor internet celebrity?

          • Bootywarrior

            So.. You’re saying someone can’t give a speech about their ideals and goals because they haven’t lived long enough to accomplish said goals? She’s trying to get the point across to the post-90’s generation that they should be different from the current generation running society. This is honestly the only way for China to change…

        • SongYii

          It definitely is one of those over wrought super emotional shows, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and believe she meant what she said. If she’s not backing it up with real action, it may be that she doesn’t know how. Its hard to learn that in America, I imagine almost impossible here.

    • Boob 2000

      She’s speaking for a group as generation as a whole. Read carefully, not literally.

  • Wodowsan

    “We are Society” – A Joe Saying

    If we do change ourselves we will change society.

    Unfortunately in China for her to become a lawyer she has to dedicate herself to protecting the Party – not the innocent, not fairness, not justice, or even the truth. SO until the system does change, I don’t see how she will ever be given a position to be a judge.

    Besides if China does not have a “trust crisis” why would this young Chinese women even make such a speech? She must be some kind of foreign agent discrediting the People’s Republic of China and Chinese society.

  • biggj

    What really needed to be said.

    • Edgar

      Oh, fancy I still remember where this quote comes from

  • iLcOrNaLiTo

    You say you want a revolution
    Well, you know We all want to change the world
    You tell me that it’s evolution
    Well, you know We all want to change the world
    But when you talk about destruction
    Don’t you know that you can count me out
    Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
    All right, all right
    You say you got a real solution
    Well, you know
    We’d all love to see the plan
    You ask me for a contribution
    Well, you know
    We’re all doing what we can
    But if you want money
    For people with minds that hate
    All I can tell is brother you have to wait
    Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
    All right, all right
    You say you’ll change the constitution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change your head
    You tell me it’s the institution
    Well, you know
    You better free you mind instead
    But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
    You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
    Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
    All right, all right!

  • CIA

    Was making a speech part of your plan?

  • bert

    Meanwhile on my local news, “a skunk trapped in a beer can.”

  • Xia

    Her speech is not about changing the world by doing things you are not supposed to do. The gist is to change the world just by not fucking up the very things you are supposed to do (e.g. your job!).
    And let’s be honest, so many people are already struggling and failing at this one. So before you say anything about how revolutions are good or bad, just do your job with a good conscience and everyone will benefit.

  • don mario

    some of these commenter’s are losers…plain and simple. she made some common sense points such as not using gutter oil to poison your fellow humans so that we can live in a better world. it is really not such a unthinkable vision. its very fucking easy to achieve, just don’t use that disgusting fucking oil taken from the sewer.

  • Alex Dương

    Bush 43 got a second term because his campaign team was able to successfully convince a majority of voters that you should stick with a guy who, *ahem*, “knows” what’s he’s doing over a guy who flip flops.

  • Xia

    You are all thinking too far. No one is talking about revolution and overthrowing the government, it’s all ghost voices in your head!
    Just refuse to take bribes to let the corrupt rich dudes off. May sound like nothing to you and just what lawyers are supposed to do, but it is already a huge step in Chinese society.

  • Xia

    What will she do if she must choose between her job and her principles? That is the real test. All else is lip-service. Many people think the same about how things should be, but still fail at the real test.

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