Youth Day in China falls on May 4. It originates from the Chinese patriotic campaign against imperialism i.e. the May Fourth Movement in 1919. In December 1949, the Government Administration Council officially announced May 4 to be Youth Day of the People's Republic of China.
Origin of Youth Day
Youth Day originates from the May 4th Movement, which happened during World War One. China attended the so called "Peace Conference" in Paris as one of the victorious nations. However, the Chinese delegates' demand to abrogate unfair treaties and to stop the aggression into and from China was rejected. Moreover, the meeting also resulted in the transfer of the rights and interests of Shandong (a province in China) from Germany to Japan.
The news incensed students in Beijing. Along with those from the business and educational circles, they sent a number of telegrams accusing Japan of irrational behaviour and asking the Chinese government to rethink to national sovereignty. Succumbed to the pressures of imperialism, the Beiyang government was prepared to sign the treaty regardless of the anger of the people.
On May 4, 1919, many students gathered around Tiananmen Square and staged demonstrations. They boycotted classes in order to make speeches and ask to meet representatives of other countries. Many students joined in the strike and student groups from other cities answered the appeal. Some students were initially arrested, but eventually released due to a significant strike that threatened to crash the economy.
The effect of the movement worked as the government refused to sign the treaty. However, on September 30, 1919, the Paris Peace Treaty was signed by the USA, England, France, Japan and other countries except China and the Chinese delegates didn't attend the signing ceremony of the Paris Peace Conference.
Significance of the Youth Day
The May Fourth Movement was an anti-imperialist as well as an anti-feudal movement. The core of the May Fourth Movement spirit is: patriotism, progress, democracy and science and marked the beginning of China's new democratic revolution. In a broader sense, it occurred in the time when the country was going through the New Culture Movement. In memory of the May 4th Movement, the Chinese government established this festival to inherit and carry forward the spirit of rebellion and revolution. It encouraged the youth to make bold changes and to be innovative.