The 2021 regulations call for devoting at least 30% of classroom time to study Marxism and Xi Jinping’s thought. Inspections are now making sure they are obeyed.
by Zhang Chunhua
On May 10, 2023, Pastor Wu Wei, president of the China Christian Council, an umbrella organization for all Protestant churches in China affiliated with the government-controlled Three-Self Church, led a team of 17 experts of the China Christian Theological Education Committee to start an inspection of Zhejiang Theological Seminary. Members of the CCP Zhejiang Provincial Ethnic and Religious Committee accompanied them.
These inspections are being carried out throughout China to verify how advanced is the process of “Sinicization” of seminaries and whether they comply with the 2021 “Administrative Measures for Religious Schools.”
These measures were part of a package of regulations promoting further “Sinicization” of religion. As readers of Bitter Winter know, “Sinicization” as defined by Xi Jinping does not mean only adapting to Chinese culture and using non-Western styles in worship and architecture. It mostly means that religions should identify with the ideology and slogans of the CCP and transmit them to religious believers.
This is clearly stated in the 2021 Measures. Article 22 mandates that all “religious colleges and universities should promote Xi Jinping’s new era socialist ideology, and offer education to socialism with Chinese characteristics, education to patriotism, education to socialist core values, rule of law education.” They should also “insist on raising the national flag and singing the national anthem to enhance the national awareness, civic awareness, and awareness of the rule of law among faculty members and students.”
According to articles 38 and 39, “religious institutions’ teaching courses are divided into public courses and specialized courses.” Public courses should include “ideological and political theory and Chinese culture and society, with the goal of an in-depth study of Xi Jinping’s thought for the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics, continuous development of socialist core values education,” as well as “advanced socialist culture, ideological and political theories, laws and regulations.” Public courses should occupy not less than 30% of the total curriculum.
Article 24 provides that “religious colleges and universities shall establish reward and punishment systems for faculty members” after assessing their compliance with the Measures.
Article 48 provides for inspection to “assess the ideological and political performance of the teachers, ethics, professional level, and work performance of teachers and administrators, and the results of the assessment shall be used as the basis for appointment or dismissal, promotion, reward, or punishment.”
These are not idle threats, and inspections such as the one at Zhejiang Theological Seminary are now making sure that the Measures are fully implemented and that seminaries are becoming schools of Marxism and “Xi Jinping’s thought for the new era of socialism.”