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China Put University Faculty Under Tight Scrutiny

The Chinese Ministry of Education has launched a campaign to enforce ideological conformity among university teachers. Ever since Xi Jinping took office, education has been focused on cultivating talent supportive of socialism, and universities are now required to offer courses on ideological and political theory, including “Xi Jinping Thought.” The ministry’s recent notice calls for a “self-examination and self-correction” campaign, targeting teachers of these courses to investigate their past academic experiences for any “inappropriate remarks or behaviors.” However, teachers have found templates on Chinese websites to help them complete their self-examination reports.

This campaign has prompted major universities across China to initiate a concentrated learning and education movement to evaluate teachers’ professional ethics. Specifically, teachers of ideological and political theory courses are being scrutinized for their past beliefs, political discipline, academic integrity, and ideological morality. Those deemed to have “crossed the bottom line” in these aspects face removal from their teaching positions through job transfers, dismissals, or resignations. Universities are expected to complete preliminary investigations by mid-July and propose plans to address problematic teachers.

Since Xi Jinping’s call for the “Seven Don’t Mentions” at universities, an increasing number of Chinese professors have faced consequences for discussing topics like universal values, press freedom, and civil society in their classrooms. Several professors from prominent institutions have been affected, leading to a culture of suppressing dissent. Apart from dismissals, outspoken and progressive teachers also face various other forms of retaliation. For instance, Guo Yuhua, a professor at Tsinghua University known for her work on China’s underprivileged communities, was detained by customs officials when she tried to travel to Hong Kong. Guo Yuhua had criticized and exposed policies related to rural areas and grassroots governance in China and publicly withdrew from the Communist Party in 2014.

Source: Radio Free Asia, July 7, 2023