To prevent mass protests, CCP increases “stability control” over students and teachers in the months commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre and Urumqi riots.
by Li Mingxuan
2019 marks two significant anniversaries of bloody repressions perpetrated by the Chinese government: 3o years since the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 4, 1989, and ten years since the suppression of Urumqi riots on July 5, 2009. The two events were commemorated around the world, paying tribute to the victims, while also noting the shocking situation of human rights and liberties in China and the continuing repressions against ethnic groups, especially Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
For the CCP, though, the anniversaries stir different sentiments. The two events – which the authorities condescendingly refer to as the “June Fourth” and “July Fifth” incidents, respectively, – are treated as the “politically sensitive dates,” for which heightened “stability control” measures should be adopted to prevent the occurrence of mass protests. College, university teachers and students are one of the primary groups that the CCP focuses its attention.
Strict control over information dissemination
Bitter Winter has obtained a copy of the document, entitled Notice on Strengthening Security and Stability Work at Colleges and Universities during the “June Fourth” and “July Fifth” Sensitive Periods, issued in June by a national security department in a city in northeastern China.
The document calls for “strengthening the collection of intelligence information in the higher education sector during sensitive periods,” in particular focusing on influences by “hostile foreign forces” on teachers and students. The edict also demands to restrict the dissemination of “reactionary, negative information,” even exerting control on the information downloaded from the internet by students and teachers.
The document demands to handle the teachers and students who have posted dissenting views on domestic or foreign websites by involving “politically active persons” in colleges and universities. The educational “stability control” work should be comprehensively strengthened, in particular with those “who have expressed views smearing the image of the Party or national leaders on domestic or foreign websites, forums, WeChat groups or QQ, or who have expressed support for the ‘Jasic Incident of Guangzhou,’ the ‘Marxist Society Incident at Nanjing University,’ and other sensitive incidents.”
To prevent teachers and students from “establishing ties, gathering, giving speeches, or holding demonstrations,” authorities require to strengthen video surveillance and daily patrols at public squares and stadiums, schools’ radio stations and entrances, as well as other potential locations for meetings or dissemination of information, to “firmly grasp the domestic propaganda front.”
Particular focus on foreigners and students from Xinjiang
Students and teachers from abroad also receive CCP’s particular attention in the document, which calls to strengthen the day-to-day control over them through observing and interpreting what they say and do, following their movements. Persons from Turkey and Syria should be expressly monitored – schools are instructed to handle any situations deviating from “normal” and report about them to higher authorities.
The document calls explicitly to heighten everyday monitoring of China’s ethnic minority students, especially those from Xinjiang. If they are discovered planning to go away on “sensitive days,” especially to Beijing, the school administration should ascertain the reasons for such trips, gather all information and report to national security departments.
The requirement adds on the already massive control over students from Xinjiang that study in universities outside the region, whose every movement is carefully watched over daily. According to an ethnic Han student from Xinjiang, attending a university in the northern province of Hebei, last year, the school demanded all students from Xinjiang to report to their counselors about any travels in advance, disclosing destinations and reasons for their trips.
“Before each holiday trip, I always have to submit to the counselor photocopies of my ID card and train ticket. I have to tell the counselor where I’m going. I must also send screenshots of my train ticket along with mobile positioning data while traveling,” she said with a sense of helplessness. The student had to do all this last year during Labor Day and National Day holidays. She was also demanded to prepare written reports of her travels, detailing all destinations, the length of stay, and everything she did.
The student also revealed that a special office for ideological education of students from Xinjiang had been set up at her university. “Xinjiang’s Department of Education sends personnel to instruct us at irregular intervals; our participation is mandatory at each of these meetings,” the young woman explained. “So-called ‘ideological education’ is actually indoctrination. They make us admit that Uyghurs are prone to rioting and that the government’s high-pressure control over Xinjiang is to maintain social stability.”
Students were prohibited from participating in any activities “detrimental to national interests,” the student added. “After every meeting, we have to write an ideological report. Now, I don’t even dare to follow sensitive news related to current affairs and politics online. I’m afraid that I might be arrested if I’m slightly careless,” she said.