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“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:

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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.

Written by Joe

Joe is a documentary producer and journalist based in Shanghai

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