Young Chinese seek empowerment, responsibility through engagement with UN

Peking : An academic forum is to be held in October to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (UN).

“I’ve come to understand the problems that the world faces and the development of different countries in the world,” said Zhang Chengyang, a student at the School of International Studies under Peking University.

Zhang said he has developed a sense of duty to the world by taking part in Model United Nations (MUN).

MUN has been a major platform for young people, especially university and high school students in China, to engage in UN-related activities. Students assume the roles of diplomats from different countries and debate global issues.

Activities encourage writing, public speaking and debating, and they also groom participants to be globally-minded citizens.

“Young people can also contribute wisdom and solutions to global problems through negotiations and discussions,” Zhang said. “We should pay more attention to global issues and maintain closer ties with the UN.”

Peking University’s MUN has more than 200 members. Besides MUN conferences, members visit the UN offices in Beijing and interact with diplomats and UN officials.

“Some MUN members have joined the United Nations after graduation, and are genuinely involved in international affairs,” Zhang said.

MUN is not the only way for young people in China to devote their passions to global issues. The Chinese youth participates in UN-related work in various forms.

Wang Shuai, a postgraduate student at Peking University, in August finished his four-month internship at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in China.

Wang’s job included helping process refugees’ requests for assistance and providing help for people with difficulties in life. He said he now knows what the refugee groups need and specifically what international organizations can do.

“I used to see the UN as a somewhat distant organization, but it is a platform that cooperates with governments to bring about solutions to problems,” he said. “This job really helped me develop a global view on solving social problems.”

“I believe that even young people can do their part in global affairs and provide help for people in need,” he said, expressing his wish to work in international organizations in the future.

Gao Xin, a youth development specialist working for a UN agency, has found her motivation and confidence while working for the UN.

“I want to make the voice of the Chinese youth better heard,” said Gao, who is contributing to empowering the youth in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through social innovation and entrepreneurship.

“One of the 17 Young Leaders for the SDGs announced by the UN earlier this month is 23-year-old Liu Jichen, a Chinese representative from the UNDP’s youth program. He’s also the first youth leader for the SDGs from China,” she said. “I believe more and more young Chinese people will take the lead on international occasions.”