Young Chinese study president’s speeches and Party policies – from kindergartens to universities – to become the new generation of faithful socialists.
In March 2018, China’s National legislature adopted amendments to enshrine into the Constitution President Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, launching the compulsory studying of president’s ideas. From the notorious “Xi Study Strong Nation” app to special TV programs, like the series “Bringing the Language of ‘Ping’ Closer to the People: the Dictionary of General Secretary Xi Jinping,” broadcasted last October on the China Central Television.
A year later, on March 18, at the symposium for ideological and political theory teachers held in Beijing, Xi Jinping stressed the necessity of cultivating generations of talents that will support the CCP leadership, and this must start with schools and children.
To pass down the “red gene” through generations, “Xi’s thought” is now force-entering schools and universities throughout China.
Ping’s language for the young
Starting this spring, all educational institutions in the southeastern province of Jiangxi – from kindergartens to colleges – are introducing “red culture” courses, taught based on the specially prepared textbooks.
In February, the municipal Party committee of Hengshui city in the northern province of Hebei ordered the educational institutions within its jurisdiction to implement the spirit of 19th CCP National Congress by introducing Xi’s thought into campuses. To become faithful successors of socialism, students are required to study books like Ping’s Language Close to People, Stories of Grandpa Xi, Dictionary of Ping’s Language, and other publications issued by the education authorities.
Hengshui municipal Party committee officials personally visited campuses to inspect and supervise the implementation of the activities. To cater to these inspections, some schools specially selected a class of students to recite content from Ping’s Language Close to People.
On April 4, a school in Yangquan city of Hebei’s neighboring Shanxi Province held activities on the theme “passing down the ‘red gene’ from generation to generation.” Students were required to study Xi’s books and “learn new ideas” to “become suitable successors” of Chinese socialism. Schoolchildren are indoctrinated to “always follow the Party” and implement Xi Jinping’s core socialist values – to “fasten the first button of life,” as Xi once said in his speech.
A teacher at the school was concerned: “During the Cultural Revolution, to express their devotion and loyalty to Mao Zedong, little red guards [a selective children’s organization] shouted the slogan ‘Chairman Mao is our red commander; we are Chairman Mao’s little red guards.’ Now, all schoolchildren have been indoctrinated with Xi thought, just like during the Cultural Revolution, when the little red guards studied Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong [known as the Little Red Book] every day. If this continues, won’t it create a new era of little red guards?”
A schoolboy from Yangquan said that all students at his school were ordered to create accounts on “Shanxi Youth” – a platform on the social networking site WeChat – by filling out their personal information, to study Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road Initiative,” poverty alleviation, and other policies by watching videos and answering questions.
“The school keeps data on the number of persons watching the videos. If anyone didn’t study, not only will their credits be deducted, but it will even affect whether they receive a diploma,” the student said with a sense of helplessness.
Teachers lead the way
In the political campaign to forge red successors, teachers have naturally become key targets of ideological control.
On March 4, the Bureau of Education and Science of Pingding county, under the jurisdiction of Yangquan city, demanded teachers at every school to take the lead in carrying out the activity of “Young People Study Xi,” download the “Xi Study Strong Nation” app and study president’s speeches. Teachers also had to write a 5,000-character essay about their gains from the studies.
Two weeks later, a middle school in Pingding county convened teachers to study “Xi Jinping’s Speech at the Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Reform and Opening Up,” and discuss the current reforms and innovations in China. Each teacher had to write an essay based on the studies of no less than 3,000 characters, threatened to be reported to higher authorities if they refused.
A teacher commented on the “classes”: “Xi Jinping’s speeches are full of nonsense and hyperbole. Writing one’s gain from the study based on his speeches is an utter waste of the school’s paper. It adds burdens on teachers and delays teaching.”
Another teacher remarked that the school’s main task is teaching, but the government is waging a big political campaign. “And teachers and students are being brought into it,” she said. “This has really become like the Cultural Revolution.”