Young people across China are subjected to patriotic education. Those who refuse to undergo it are in danger of losing opportunities to study or get good jobs.
by Tang Zhe
On June 15, the birthday of Xi Jinping, state-run media praised the president for his “merits and achievements” in preventing and fighting coronavirus and alleviating poverty, calling Xi Jinping Thought “the Marxism of the 21st century.”
President Xi’s personality cult has been drastically promoted ever since he took China’s top office in 2013. Even during the coronavirus outbreak, the CCP continued indoctrinating students to exert total control over the next generation’s ideological education.
As per a document issued by the Communist Youth League Committee of Shenyang, the capital of the northeastern province of Liaoning, all League members are demanded to use the “Young People Study Xi”—a series of ideological and political education courses online. Even non-members are encouraged to study the program’s content, which is run on the League’s account on WeChat, China’s messaging and social media platform.
Students in the city’s secondary schools and universities, as well as youth groups in public institutions and state-run enterprises, have to watch videos, read texts and take tests. Results are then calculated, and organizations and individuals are ranked. Those with high scores may be awarded the title of “excellent and advanced” individual or organization. The League may summon those with low results for “ideological transformation.”
A high school student from Shenyang told Bitter Winter that in mid-April, her school demanded all students to study the “Young People Study Xi.” “After each session, I have to take screenshots of my answers and send them to my class student leader, who then passes them on to my teacher. The school eventually sends them to the Education Bureau,” the student explained, adding that the school reports publicly every week students’ rankings. The school’s final exams also contain questions from the “Young People Study Xi.”
“The program is updated each Monday,” the student continued. “The recent changes are about Xi Jinping and the CCP’s Central Committee defeating the epidemic and their work to revive the economy. I’m disgusted. It’s pointless to study this, but we are forced to do so. It’s a waste of time.”
Some universities demand their students to study on the infamous “Xi Study Strong Nation” app, employed by the CCP to indoctrinate people. A university student from Ganzhou city in the southeastern province of Jiangxi could not complete all tasks on the app because of a family emergency. The school informed her in late April that she would be disqualified from joining the CCP if she does not reach the required scores, even though she was an excellent student who has received various honors and scholarships.
“Human rights are not respected in China,” the student said. “If you do not accept the CCP’s ideology and rule, it’ll deny all your rights. The state is not preparing students to become good professionals but turns them into subjects who accept its rule.”
A military school student from the eastern province of Shandong told Bitter Winter that the president’s speeches had become the basis of their political science classes. “During the coronavirus outbreak, our online classes focus primarily on ‘studying Xi,’” the student explained. “If we fail the exam on Xi Thought, we won’t graduate, and our chances of joining the Party, getting good employment, or being promoted are slim.”
A woman from Shandong’s Penglai city told Bitter Winter that her daughter could not become a state-authorized doctor because she failed an exam in November last year. The young woman received the highest grades from the professional part of the test but did not get the required minimum by three points on the questions about Xi Jinping Thought.
“We studied Mao Zedong’s quotes and poems every day during the Cultural Revolution,” the woman said helplessly. “If anyone refused to learn them or failed to study well enough, they were designated as ‘rightists’ and were attacked. All people were very cautious, not daring to say ‘no.’” The same is happening now.”