It is a pleasure to host a third and final short Q&A with Jason Cai (蔡昌盛). Jason Cai was one of the members of the delegation of the Foundation for Law and International Affairs (FLIA) and the Coalition for Peace and Ethics (CPE) at the United Nations Forum on Democracy, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law, which closed today.
FLIA and the CPE organized a side event on Political Participation and the Global Civic Education of the Youth, and were honored to have Jason Cai serve as the chair, and moderate a lively discussion. In his speech delivered at the opening session of the Forum H.E. Ambassador Choi Kyonglim noted how”even the briefest dip into social media demostrates the strength of young people’s engagement on issues essential to the well-being of humanity“. The Q&A that follows proves the factual truth of these remarks.
CRE: What kind of resources, in your opinion, do young people need to be good citizens in the society where they live?
Jason Cai: Fair educational opportunities lay a foundation for youngsters to be good citizens. Though the current education system, such as the one that exists in China, makes it compulsory for everyone to receive a preliminary and middle school education, and opportunities are seemingly “equal” for everyone, the quality of education can vary substantially (such as in cities versus rural areas), and in essence, students still face inequality in accessing educational opportunities. When they grow up, youngsters will likely join the population of cities to seek improved living standards, etc., but they may not behave as well as those who were given better education.
A good social system allows youngsters to fairly enjoy the results of economic development. For example, if the tax rate is extremely high, and the social insurance system is not good enough, young people may devote most of their attention and efforts to achieving a sound economic status, which may take a long time. They may not care about exercising the political rights or constitutional rights, which is less relevant than earning money, or they may just have no time to take care for the rights.
CRE: What kind of rights should young people concretely enjoy, to have an opportunity to construct a better world for everybody?
Jason Cai: the right to education, social security, freedom of expression and right of political participation are among the rights that would be most important for youngsters to help build a better world.
CRE: In many countries, societies are divided. The divisions we see inside a single society are mirrored by the divisions we see between countries. But, our societies are made by us, and opportunities to overcome divisions exist in our daily lives. How, according to you, can we make the best use of these opportunities?
Jason Cai: First of all, a good understanding of the reasons for the division is essential. Divisions sometimes could inherently lead to biased judgments. But when we come to understand that certain behaviors were caused by the difference in economic status, cultural background and other exterior factors caused the citizens in City A to act in violation of the norms of City B, the citizens in City B could become more forgiving, and more willing to communicate with those who have different ideas / behaviors, and work together to solve the problem.
Secondly, it may need the involvement of a third party to overcome the division between two parties. The third party is neutral and can make better judgment. When division involves a conflict in the interest of the two parties concerned, a third party can act as an intermediary to facilitate parties’ negotiation and cause the parties to compromise and co-exist.
Thirdly, we should understand that the division might relate to many factors, and it would not be easy to solve the division very quickly, and may fail for several times before success. A good expectation should be promoted to the public and parties involved, and the society should allow for failure and try not to get too frustrated if a try fails.
CRE: Many criticize social media on various grounds, but social media are important to allow young persons to be good global citizens. What is your opinion on this?
Jason Cai: Social media could be really helpful to model youngsters’ role in global affairs. The many benefits that social media would bring include increasing access to information, facilitating communication between parties in a distance geographical area, allowing quick and instant response.
It is true that social media could be criticized for many grounds. But, we should understand that social media’s role is inevitably increasing along with the development of information technology, and it is never feasible to try to hinder the development of social media. That said, regulation over social media could be made by the law or government, but currently, as social media newly emerged, the regulators might lack experience in regulating social media. Considering this, it may be better to emphasize the “pros” of social media more than the “cons”, and stimulate everyone to think about solving the issue positively.
Jason Cai serves as a legal consultant at the Shanghai office of an international law firm. He earned a bachelor of law degree, majoring in intellectual property law, and he also has a stong interest in international law issues.