From Child Star to Youth Advocate: TFBoys’ Jackson Yee Represents China at UN Youth Forum

Jackson Yee of TFBoys is glowing up yet again - this time representing China at the United Nations Youth Forum

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12:58 AM HKT, Thu April 11, 2019 2 mins read

The Chinese boy band TFBoys has risen to international stardom courtesy of their bubblegum bops and fresh faces. Together, the trio has amassed a commercial value of up to 4 billion USD (30 billion RMB), topped the Forbes China Celebrity List multiple times, and even had a cryptocurrency created after them:

Individually, they don’t fare badly either. As the child stars transition into teen idols, they‘ve taken on more solo projects and built up their individual clout – we’re talking over 70 million followers each on Weibo (for comparison, Luhan has 60 million followers and Kris Wu a mere 45 million).

First, there’s the leader, Karry Wang, who holds a Guinness World Record for the “most reposted Weibo post” and has discussed human space colonization with Stephen Hawking. Then there’s Roy Wang, who last year was invited to throw the first pitch at a Mets game and now appears to be giving Luhan competition for the title of KFC colonel.

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Finally, there’s the youngest, and perhaps most underrated, member: Jackson Yee. Since debuting in 2013, the 18-year-old has shed the wholesome schoolboy image and glowed up — to the point of prompting the important question, “Is Jackson Yee Sexy Now?”. According to Admaster, he is currently the most commercially valuable star in the country, beating out pop culture heavyweights like Cai Xukun and Dilraba Dilmurat.

And this week, Jackson tacked on another accomplishment to his ever-growing resume: participating in the annual United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum. Joined by nearly 1,000 other youth advocates in New York on April 8 and 9, the Chinese pop star met with government ministers and officials to advance the role of young people in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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As a special envoy for the World Health Organization in China, he naturally put an emphasis on healthy living, and also mentioned his support for the “Children’s Companion Program”, a project that aims to help children in rural provinces whose parents have moved away to work in major cities. Based on the model “one person, one family, one link,” the project hires a full-time guardian for each village, organizes themed activities, and explores ways to protect the rights and meet the welfare needs of left-behind children.

“According to official data, there are almost 7 million left-behind children in rural China. Many of them are facing physical and mental health problems along with other kinds of problems in their daily lives,” Jackson stated. “Our goal is giving all these children a better and healthier future.”

(UNICEF estimates that this number is far steeper — over 60 million children live in Chinese villages without their parents according to their statistics.)

Representing the Asia/Pacific region during one of the plenary sessions, Jackson spoke on the role of young people in catalyzing change: “Young people should not be job seekers but also job creators. Young people are demanding change right here, right now. And in Asia/Pacific we stand ready to play our parts in achieving the SDGs.”

He ended his statement with the phrase “一起来吧” (yiqi lai ba), which roughly translates to “let’s do this together.” And WHO’s Weibo account, a fan of puns apparently, got the modified hashtag #易起来吧 trending on the Chinese social media platform, raking in 937 million reads and counting. (“易” is Jackson’s surname in Chinese and sounds similar to the “一” in “一起来吧”.)

Of course, Jackson isn’t the only one out here doing good deeds. Karry is a goodwill ambassador to the UN and speaks out on environmental issues, while Roy Wang is an education ambassador for UNICEF and spoke at the Youth Forum last year.

As the TFBoys become men, we’re excited to see how they shape more than Mando-pop.


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