President Xi Jinping has called for stronger "political guidance" for young Chinese in a bid to ensure they toe the Communist Party line.
Speaking at a conference organised by the Politburo to mark the May Fourth Movement on Friday, Xi said it was a milestone event in China's history and should be studied more.
The movement was a series of anti-imperialist, cultural and political demonstrations started by students in 1919 that unleashed the modernisation of China, including a call to adopt Western-style democracy and science.
"We need to clarify the relationship between the party and Chinese youth movements, strengthen political guidance for young people, guide them to voluntarily insist on the party's leadership, to listen to the party and follow the party," Xi was quoted as saying by state-run CCTV on Saturday.
He added that young people should also contribute to the nation's "rejuvenation".
"We need to answer why young people should connect their individual aspirations to national rejuvenation and socialism with Chinese characteristics," he said.
Studies of the May Fourth Movement should include an explanation of why the party had the responsibility to lead the Chinese people on the path to prosperity, Xi said.
China's young people are seen by the ruling party as a focus for its propaganda efforts. Last month, Xi called on teachers to instil patriotism in the nation's youth and reject "wrong ideas and ideology", saying they were the key to strengthening ideological and political education.
In January, the party's publicity department launched a new phone app called Xuexi Qiangguo, a news aggregation platform for articles, short video clips and documentaries about Xi's political philosophy. Party members are required to register with their real names and phone numbers.
A version for young people was also launched on the website, app and social media accounts of party mouthpiece People's Daily, requiring schoolchildren to study texts related to Xi's political ideology, with the slogan "learn new ideas, be a good successor".
Zhang Lifan, an independent political analyst in Beijing, said the emphasis on young people and youth movements had always been the party's practice - and it was the same in the Mao Zedong era.
"Now the party's hope lies in the young. People who are middle-aged or older don't believe in this stuff any more, but it may be tempting for the youth," he said.
In recent months, the battle over political ideology has also intensified at universities, with reports suggesting students were being mobilised to monitor and report "radical" political views. Several outspoken educators have been sacked or disciplined for opinions deemed to be "out of line".
Those dismissals have raised concerns among education experts over what they see as a worsening trend of "stifling free speech in the classroom" that could lead to a lack of critical thinking.
Zhang said the propaganda efforts, in combination with China's exam-focused education system, could influence the thinking of young people.
"But once they enter society, they might realise that what they have learned in school is totally different from reality," Zhang said.
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