Goaded by President Xi Jinping, higher education institutions across China are increasing the number of mandatory classes intended to indoctrinate the young.
by Wang Yong
Courses on the basic principles of Marxism and Maoism are among the compulsory classes university students across China are required to take. For the CCP, they help to consolidate its authoritarian regime. Therefore, higher education institutions under the rule of President Xi Jinping are reinforcing teams of ideological and political theory teachers and expand compulsory courses of ideological indoctrination. Attendance is mandatory; skipping them can result in being blacklisted by the state.
Many students, though, feel that such courses are a waste of time. But they can only express their dissatisfaction in private, fearing retaliation from authorities.
“Ahead of each semester, the school always orders for us new books about the CCP history and ‘red’ revolutions, we just have to pay for them,” a student from Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine Technical College told Bitter Winter.
In October last year, the university made changes to the examination process of ideological and political theory courses. According to the school-issued notice, students have to take closed-book exams on the basic principles of Marxism, Maoism, and the theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Those who fail these exams will not receive a graduation diploma.
“It’s getting much harsher than in the past. Government requirements in this field are getting more and more rigorous,” another student at the university said. He takes six classes for his major in medicine every week plus four on ideology and political theory. “Since I am studying medicine, I think I am supposed to learn more about this field, not politics. The school’s curriculum leaves me speechless,” the student added.
At the National Conference on Ideological and Political Work in Colleges and Universities in December 2016, Xi Jinping emphasized that success in this field has a bearing on what kind of talents, how, and for what universities are cultivating young people. In response, colleges and universities across the country are stepping up ideological and political education, striving to turn institutions of higher education into CPP’s strongholds.
Jiangxi Agricultural University also issued orders requiring all students to work more in studying the principles of communism and socialism. To motivate them, the school promises to increase the scores of final exams to those students who “give presentations on the subject” or “share their understanding during class.”
This alluring proposal doesn’t seem to raise students’ interests in Marxism and Leninism.
“This course is intended to promote ‘the greatness of Marxism’ and teach us about ‘the rightness of the CCP’s ideology’ so that we would closely follow in the Party’s steps. Each class lasts 90 minutes, and it is nothing but torture for me,” a student at the university said. “The school also punishes those who do not actively participate in these classes. The teacher required to attend each class, threatening to deduct two points from the final exams’ score otherwise. No such strict rules are applied for any other courses.”
Since 2018, the university has been requiring all students and teachers to take an online course called “Young People Study Xi” using the messaging site WeChat. The course includes topics like the history of the CCP and the Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics. Those who refuse to take this class will receive a negative assessment.
“‘Young People Study Xi’ is exceptionally dull. Students don’t want to study it. It’s a waste of time, but we are forced to take each class,” a student at the Jiangxi Agricultural University complained.
On top of that, the university’s students are required to accumulate two credits in two years by participating in themed activities, for example, visits to the so-called “red education bases.” These are also part of the mandatory ideological and political education, and taking part in one such activity earns 0.02 of one credit point. Those who fail will be denied a graduation diploma.
Teachers are pressured to ensure that proper ideological indoctrination is imposed on their students. “We have to teach according to the set requirements, and if we don’t promote patriotism during classes, we’ll be accused of failing in our work and have our wages deducted,” revealed a teacher who teaches ideological and political theory in a college in Jiangxi’s Nanchang city.