1. Rise of China's New Youth Volunteer Movement
The Chinese youth volunteer movement was a new social phenomenon that started to make its presence felt in the early 1990s. On 19 December 1993, passenger transport reached its peak and the railway system began to enter its busiest period of the whole year. More than 20,000 youths working on the railways took the lead in holding up the banner of Youth Volunteers and conducted voluntary service activities, to provide warmth to passengers at over 120 railway stations and on 33 trains along the Beijing-Guangzhou Railway, over 2,400 kilometers long. Subsequently, more than 400,000 college and high school students, making use of their winter vacation, began to conduct the voluntary activity, New Spring Zeal along the major railways and at major railway stations all over the country.
On March 5 and 6 of the same year, the first two-day weekend as prescribed by the Chinese government, over 10 million youngsters all over the country wore uniform symbols and went into thousands of family homes and construction sites of key national projects to conduct large-scale voluntary activity. Thus the youth volunteer movement spread rapidly throughout the country. On December 5, 1994, to promote the development of the cause of youth volunteer services, the China Youth Volunteers Association was established under the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League. It is now the only national organization specializing in voluntary services. Since then, a network of voluntary service organizations, comprised of the China Youth Volunteers' Association, 35 volunteer associations at the provincial level, and volunteer associations at the municipal and county levels in two thirds of all the cities and counties, have been basically formed.
In August 1999, the People's Congress of Guangdong Province adopted the first regulations on youth volunteer services in China, giving youth volunteer services a legal basis. Subsequently, Shandong Province and Nanjing City also adopted regulations on youth volunteer services. Provinces such as Fujian and Henan have enacted regulations for youth volunteer services on their legislative agendas. Cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin have made special provisions providing legal support for high students, 16 to 18 years old, to participate in adult volunteer services, which have greatly promoted legislative processes for volunteer services throughout the country.
According to preliminary statistics, as of December 12, 2007, there were over 268 million youth volunteers throughout the country, providing over 6,100 million hours of voluntary service for the society, in areas such as poverty relief through development, community building, environmental protection, large-scale activities, emergency relief, and overseas services; and the number of volunteers who had gone through formal registration totaled more than 25.11 million.