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.
"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, although the CYL did not say how young people would be persuaded to volunteer.
Former revolutionary bases, zones suffering from extreme poverty and ethnic minority areas will receive top priority, according to the CYL.
Relations are often fraught between the Han majority, who make up more than 90 percent of the population, and ethnic minorities like the Tibetans and Muslim Uighurs.
Users on the Twitter-like Weibo social platform reacted warily.
Many evoked the chaos of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, when Mao sent millions of "young intellectuals" into often primitive conditions in the countryside, while universities were closed for a decade.
"Has it started again?" wondered one user named WangTingYu.
"We did that 40 years ago," wrote Miruirong.
"Sometimes history advances, sometimes it retreats," noted KalsangWangduTB.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)