While staying home during the epidemic, Chinese students are subjected to red ideology and anti-religious education.
by Lin Feng
China’s Dream is a concept coined by Xi Jinping after taking office, aimed at achieving “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” What it means is that the CCP strengthens its control over ideology, which is mainly reflected in patriotic education (actually, Party-loving education) and propaganda, and diatribes against the Western culture (including its religious aspects).
Ideology is not locked down
“Now the epidemic situation is worsening day by day”, a college student from the southeastern province of Jiangxi told Bitter Winter. “The common people lack protective measures, and their lives are not secured. However, the CCP does not forget to control the thoughts of the students, mandatorily indoctrinating them with red culture through online classes. Wouldn’t it better to study some practical knowledge of epidemic prevention? The CCP has always been caring about nothing but its political power,” he said.
On March 18, 2019, Xi Jinping gave a speech at the Symposium for ideological and political theory for teachers, demanding to turn schools into training bases for “red descendants.” As an important step in realizing China’s Dream, kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities were demanded to continuously carry out Communist ideological education at all times.
“We have three or four ideological and political classes every week, including current politics and news. If we fail in the exam on this course, we will lose the opportunity to take the college entrance exam. I don’t like studying this,” said a grade-one girl student in a high school from Lanling county in the prefecture-level city of Linyi in the eastern province of Shandong. She added that student have been forced to attend online ideological and political classes amid the pandemic since February.
The student also told Bitter Winter that the teacher of one of her friends, studying in another high school, assigned homework for the students, asking them to watch propaganda war films such as “The Rise of the Great Powers,” a 12-part Chinese documentary television series produced by the China Central Television. They were also asked to write down their understandings after watching the films, and told that those who would not comply would be punished.
State-run media reported that, to implement Xi Jinping’s statement that “it is the teachers and the Party that play key roles” in managing ideological and political classes, the schools ask the teachers themselves to study Communist ideology amid the pandemic. Teachers are thus converted into “indoctrination masters,” ready to indoctrinate the students with red ideology.
“The Communist Party has harmed teachers, as they have no time left to attend to their proper duties,” a primary school principal from the northwestern province of Gansu complained to Bitter Winter. “Today they demand us to study ‘Do not forget the original intention; keep the mission in mind,’ and tomorrow they will ask us to carry out ‘self-reflection.’ We are busy making various reports and filling out political assessment forms for two-thirds of each day, and have no time to attend to the needs of our students.”
Students forced to read Marxist books continuously
Since the 18th People’s Congress, President Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed “cultural confidence,” firmly believing this is an important tool for the advancement of China’s Dream. To promote criticism of the Western culture, Xi Jinping told the youth they should love China’s tradition of autocracy, and be hostile to Western democracy. Thus, the books on “traditional” Chinese culture as interpreted by Xi Jinping, and revolutionary education, have become must-reads for the students.
A parent of a middle school student from the eastern province of Shandong told Bitter Winter that in January, the school demanded that parents cooperate in the indoctrination effort. In order to strengthen children’s cultural confidence, the parents were asked to accompany their children in reading The Long March, Baiyangdian Chronicle, Tracks in the Snowy Forest, and more than ten other Communist books that praise the CCP’s history. After reading the books, the children must write down by hand an excerpt of 300 Chinese characters and comment on their understanding of the text. Then, the parents must take pictures of them reading the books and their written comments, and send them to the teachers as evidence. Those students whose parents do not send photos will be publicly criticized by the teachers, and afterward, they will have to take exams on what they read.
“My child’s school demanded the students to copy by hand the book Chinese Excellent Traditional Culture,” a parent of a primary school student from Shandong told Bitter Winter, “and learn it by heart.” “Those who can’t recite the text will have to copy it by hand ten times. Those who fail again, will copy it by hand for 20 to 30 times, until they can recite it. The children feel distressed but can do nothing about it,” he said.
Many students resent these demands as especially tiring and difficult. A student said that every evening, no matter how late it is, he must read these books and write down his comments, otherwise he would be publicly criticized by the teacher. He was so tired that several times he had the thought of quitting school.
Unremitting anti-religious education
As an atheist political party, the CCP forbids students from holding any religious beliefs, including Christianity and Buddhism. Eradicating the ideologies incompatible with the CCP’s is one of the implications of Xi Jinping’s “China’s Dream.” During the outbreak of the coronavirus, for the sake of “stability maintenance,” the CCP pays more attention to suppressing those religious beliefs that fall out of the government’s control. The schools use online classes to indoctrinate the students with anti-religious thoughts and propaganda against the xie jiao.
A primary school teacher from Yuncheng city in the northern province of Shanxi told Bitter Winter that, during the coronavirus crisis, the school still devoted part of its teaching time to spread propaganda and fake news against The Church of Almighty God and other religious groups banned by the government among the students through online classes. The school demanded that students and their parents read those materials together, and encouraged the students to report to police the members of those banned religious groups they may know.
Amid the outbreak of the pandemic, such anti-xie-jiao propaganda was widely carried out in schools and communities in all provinces.