BEIJING: China is planning to send millions of youth "volunteers" back to the villages, raising fears of a return to the methods of Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution of 50 years ago.
The Communist Youth League (CYL) has promised to despatch more than 10 million students to "rural zones" by 2022 in order to "increase their skills, spread civilization and promote science and technology," according to a Communist Party document.
The aim is to bring to the rural areas the talents of those who would otherwise be attracted to life in the big cities, according to a CYL document quoted in the official Global Times daily Thursday.
"We need young people to use science and technology to help the countryside innovate its traditional development models," Zhang Linbin, deputy head of a township in central Hunan Province, told the state-run Global Times.
Students will be called upon to live in the countryside during their summer holidays.
Former revolutionary bases, zones suffering from extreme poverty and ethnic minority areas will receive top priority, according to the CYL.
Current President Xi Jinping, known for his nostalgia for the Mao era, himself spent seven years in a village in the poor northern province of Shaanxi from the age of 16.