During Hu Jintao’s era, the Chinese government mandated four compulsory political courses in universities and colleges. Recently, the Ministry of Education issued a high-profile announcement to strengthen and improve the “Current Affairs and Policies” course, as an attempt to continue the party’s ideological control.
The Ministry of Education circulated a notice in April 2018, recommending that all higher education institutions in the country strengthen and improve the “Current Affairs and Policies” course to “help college students understand the situation at home and abroad in the new era correctly, and to obtain a thorough understanding of the historical achievements and historical changes of the party and the state and of the historic opportunities and challenges they are facing.” The purpose was to “further push Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era into the students’ minds, to promote the party’s major policies … and to train a new generation that will undertake the great mission of national rejuvenation.”
One student told Radio Free Asia that the course is actually “brainwashing” education in combination with current events. He cited the US-China trade war as an example. “The course tells how the United States is rude and unreasonable toward China. It also preaches that the party is very great and instills ideas about the party-state system and about xenophobia.”
The Ministry of Education stipulated that bachelor’s degree students should take no less than 8 class hours for a total of 2 credits per semester, and associate degree students no less than 8 class hours for a total of 1 credit per semester, to “ensure that the undergraduate students on campus take the course uninterrupted.”
Another student told the reporter that the “Current Affairs and Policies” course is compulsory and one cannot graduate without completing it. The credits for each political class are similar to major related classes. Many students choose to memorize the course contents.
The student also mentioned that his school once distributed questionnaires on the “Current Affairs and Policies” class, but it touched on little of the contents in the curriculum.
“A lot of stuff in the questionnaire is actually to evaluate the students’ political views. There are questions such as the following: ‘Do you agree with constitutional democracy?’ ‘Do you agree with the leadership of the Communist Party?’ ‘What do you think about religious beliefs? One of my high school classmates who answered that he is a religious believer was called into the school for a conversation. Therefore we don’t dare to tell the truth on these questionnaires. I’m afraid that if the questionnaire is checked, the respondent will be called in for a conversation.” Feng Chongyi, a professor at the University of Technology in Sydney, said in an interview that the “brainwashing” education exists because the Chinese ruling party must control the students’ ideological dynamics.
“After June 4, the universities intensified political classes. The democratic movement in 1989 posed great challenges to the Chinese ruling party. The government regarded students as the “worst-hit area” in terms of challenges to the Chinese Communist regime.” “(‘Brain-washing’ education) is something special in a totalitarian regime; starting at the kindergarten stage, it puts political education in the first (place). From childhood on, people have not been able to cultivate the ability to think and judge things independently and the real cognitive ability of a human being has been destroyed.”
Source: Radio Free Asia, January 10, 2019