As part of their mandatory study of Communist Party history, “Party movie classes” are organized in monasteries.
by Chen Tao
Driven by Xi Jinping’s campaign to “Sinicize” Buddhism, more and more Chinese Buddhist temples are imposing Chinese Communist Party (CCP) political propaganda on their monks. An example of this is the “Party movie class” at Huasheng Temple in Tianjin.
Tianjin Huasheng Temple, which held this activity, introduced it on its WeChat public account. It explained that “to carry out in-depth education on Party history and promote the spirit of patriotism,” on October 29, Huasheng Temple organized the viewing of the “red” movie The Battle at Lake Changjin (长津湖) to “revisit the dramatic history and deeply remember the revolutionary ancestors.”
This article on the WeChat public account of Huasheng Temple claimed that, “The viewing brought a great shock to everyone. It is a vivid ‘Party film lesson’ and a living teaching material to carry out Party history education and patriotism education.” The article is also accompanied by two photos showing 18 monks watching the film.
The Battle at Lake Changjin depicts the “story of Chinese soldiers defeating American troops despite great odds” at the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean war. Despite the CCP’s efforts to promote the film through its controlled media, many Chinese have raised questions about the movie’s production quality, historical accuracy, and whether it is watered down at the box office. Of course, most of these comments, which differ from the official propaganda, have been blocked by the CCP’s Internet control department, and several netizens were even arrested for questioning China’s involvement in the Korean War.
A Tianjin Buddhist expressed his dissatisfaction to Bitter Winter regarding this event organized by Huasheng Temple. “Monks of the temple as practitioners are supposed to have six pure roots (六根清净), he said, and stay away from politics. And Party classes are supposed to be an activity that only Communist Party members need to attend. Compelling monks to take a Party movie class is something incestuous, making the temple look like a branch of the Communist Party.”