Definition of Youth

As described in “Revisiting China’s Youth Policy” (2011), the Communist Youth League (CYL), the sole national organisation managing youth affairs in China, focuses its efforts on young people between 14 and 28 years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 22
  • --
  • --
  • Female
  • 20
  • --
  • --

  • Minimum legal ages at marriage may vary across states/provinces, ethnic groups, religious groups or forms of marriage. No specific legislation for same-sex marriage. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Criminal Law of China

Majority Age


Voting Age


Members of the National People's Congress are indirectly elected by provincial people's congresses.
Source:  Inter-Parliamentary Union

Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 99.74% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.71% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • --Male %
  • -- Female %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 7.10% Male (13-15) %
  • 4.10% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
China does not have a national youth policy. A 2011 article describes the current situation.

While no unified national youth policy exists, “Revisiting China’s Youth Policy” (2011) finds that there are more than 200 policies and regulations that address the welfare of young people. These focus on six general areas, which the article suggests could inform a future national youth policy:

  • Promotion of communist ideology and “socialism with Chinese characteristics”
  • Role of the Communist Youth League (CYL) in assisting the government with managing youth affairs
  • The growing importance of Self-Organised Youth Organisations (SYOs)
  • Protection of youth rights and welfare through the development of laws and legal policies
  • Youth unemployment in the wake of market-oriented economic reforms
  • Youth development in the areas such as education, physical and mental health, and community participation

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
According to the China Internet Information Center, a government-authorized web portal, the Communist Youth League of China (CYL) was established in May 1922 “to adhere to the implementation of the CPC’s basic lines and policies of the primary stage of socialism”. It is described as a “quasi-official youth work organisation under the CPC and supported by the government to lead and coordinate youth affairs” by “Revisiting China’s Youth Policy” (2011), however may lack “legitimate authority to propose or monitor youth related policies” in the interest of youth.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
All-China Youth Federation (ACYF), established in 1949, describes itself as a “federative body of Chinese youth organisations and excellent youth nationwide.” It has 52 member organisations, including the Communist Youth League of China (CYL), covering 89 million members. Its activities include education, voluntary service and development of the “new countryside”.  ACYF “aims to represent the legitimate rights and interest of young people” however it is unclear how it does this or to what extent it is able to advocate youth interests among decision-makers.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
CNY 362 million
USD 59.6 million
According to a 2009 audit, the budget expenditure of the Communist Youth League of China (CYL) Central Committee was CNY 362 million (USD 59.6 million). It is unclear if this amount includes all youth-related programming. While reports on budgets are published on the Chinese government website, the 2009 audit is the most recent information published on the budget of the CYL. The World Bank lists no data on public spending on education in China for the last ten years.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. Unless otherwise noted, data for China do not include data for Hong Kong SAR, China; Macao SAR, China; or Taiwan, China. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

From “Revisiting China’s Youth Policy” (2011) in Forum21: European Journal on Child and Youth Policy:

[T]here are a number of outstanding issues that have affected the CYL in performing the aforesaid functions. For examples, lacking of formal administrative position and power in helping the government to manage youth affairs, insufficient legitimate authority to propose or monitor youth related policies for the protection of youth interests, inadequate channels for youth participation in the decision making on youth affairs, and adaptation to the service demand for multifarious youth problems due to advanced technological change and globalization, such as internet addict, mental health, drug and delinquency [...]

China’s youth policy must find some effective ways to cater for the rising needs and problems of young people [...]

Thus the solution is not easy and there are many challenges ahead both for the CPC, the government and the CYL at all levels, which may include:

• Coming up with an explicit, comprehensive and written national youth policy with the support of specific laws and detailed operational definitions of youth rights, responsibilities and welfare, in meeting distinctive youth needs and in tackling unique youth problems;

• Changing or modifying the CYL’s ambiguous status in between the Party and the government, political function and role in policy formulation, provision of services, and management of youth affairs;

• Recognizing the position and impact of the SYOs and exploring ways for achieving positive development and contributions;

• Developing varied services for youth development and encouraging youth participation in youth affairs;

• Boosting professional standards of youth work through professional accreditation and continuous on the job training; and

• Setting up a Department of Youth Affairs or Ministry for Youth in the governments both at national, provincial and metropolitan city level, with the aim to interface among different government departments to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate youth policies and services.