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Government/Politics

Beijing to Launch Social Media Platforms for Ideological and Political Education in Universities

According to Xinhua News Agency, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) Central Propaganda Department, the CCP’s Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, the Ministry of Education, and the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League, will be jointly promoting the launch of a number of social media platforms in universities and colleges. The “first group of universities and colleges ideological and political public accounts list” includes the social media accounts of Tsinghua University and Peking University.

Since 2013, the CCP has been strengthening the ideological education in schools and universities. As early as 2013, at the CCP’s National Propaganda Work Conference, General Secretary Xi Jinping vowed to solidify the guiding position of Marxism in ideology and propaganda, especially on school campuses.

To celebrate the centennial of the founding of the CCP, the authorities launched a large-scale study campaign on the history of the Party, using the latest version of the “Brief History of the Chinese Communist Party ” as the official designated study material.

At the same time, the Ministry of Education has also blacklisted books that “do not conform to the core socialist values.” They are prohibited from being used in elementary and secondary schools and in kindergartens.

Source: Central News Agency, May 28, 2021
https://www.cna.com.tw/news/acn/202105280123.aspx

National English Public Speaking Contest Organizer Picked Topic: To Praise the Party

A national annual English public speaking contest that the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press hosted drew wide critics online. Considered among the top ranking English public speaking contests in China, the contest [Editor’s note: https://uchallenge.unipus.cn/] is open to college students under the age of 35. The preliminary contest is held from June to October; the provincial finals are held before November 8; and the national finals are held from December 6th to 10th. In the past years, the assigned topics have been closely related to life events or have been about Chinese culture. This year, however, the topic is “Red Star over China.” It asked the contestants to sing praises to the party. People complained that the organizer is simply “training a new generation of party spokespersons.” The authorities have deleted all of the online negative comments.

“Red Star over China” is a 1937 book by an American pro-communist journalist, Edgar Snow. The book describes to Western readers an accounting of the Chinese Communist Party when it was a guerrilla army.

Source: Radio Free Asia, May 21, 2021
https://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/speech-05212021035809.html

Private School to Adhere to CCP Leadership

On May 14, China’s State Council announced the newly revised regulations for private school education, which will be implemented in time for the new school year on September 1. The contents stipulate that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) organizations in private schools should participate in and supervise major school decisions. This is considered the beginning of the CCP’s strengthening of control over the education industry and part of the CCP’s “Strengthening Social Control Plan.”  It is still unclear which field will be its next target, but the uncertainty has caused education stock prices to drop.

The Voice of America (VOA) Chinese website reported that Article 1 of this newly revised regulation stipulates that private schools should “adhere to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.” The specific method for implementing the leadership of the CCP is for the grassroots CCP organizations in schools to “participate in major school decisions and supervision.”

The article also mentioned that the school’s decision-making body “should have the participation of the person in charge of the CCP organization,” and that the relevant supervision agency should also have “representatives from the party’s grassroots organization.”

In addition, this regulation also prohibits any social organization or individual from using a merger and acquisition to control private schools or non-profit based pre-schools. At the same time, it also requires increased supervision of schools that are run by social organizations when their partner is from a foreign country but has a majority of the control.

Before the 1980s, except for a few private schools in remote areas, China’s primary and secondary education were basically government-run public education. After the reform and opening up in the 1990s, domestic private capital and international capital gradually flowed into the elementary education field. Many private schools were formed in large and medium-sized cities. These schools adopted foreign teaching materials and used advanced teaching technology. They were mostly favored by wealthy urban residents who paid hefty fees to send their children to these schools.

Source: Central News Agency, May 16, 2021
https://www.cna.com.tw/news/acn/202105160196.aspx

Red Tourism Fever Sweeps China

In the past decade or so, red tourism has become a unique phenomenon in China. Red tourism refers to the general public visiting the locations and landmarks that have historical significance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The number of participants has increased from 140 million at the beginning to 1.41 billion in 2019. Jing Gangshan is known as the revolutionary base of the CCP. It has a population of 170,000. More than 19 million tourists visited it in 2019 and it had tourism revenue of 16 billion yuan (US$2.49 billion). In Shanghai, there are more than 610 red (CCP) historical sites and memorial facilities. As local officials describe it, the red culture has been integrated into the city’s genes.

In March of 2021, months before the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CCP, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China launched the “100 Excellent Routes for Red Tourism.” During the recent May 1 Labor Day holiday break, travel agencies have also actively promoted “Red Tourism” as part of their “patriotic education campaign.”

Beijing officially proposed the plan of red tourism in 2004 and finalized the implementation at the end of 2005. It hoped that the development of red tourism could strengthen the education about the CCP’s history and tradition and reinforce patriotism among the general public, especially the youth.

According to Zhang Yu, Secretary General of the independent Chinese PEN society, more than 10 years ago, when Red Tourism first started, many participants were supporters of Mao Zedong who was the first-generation leader. Those people were unhappy with the regime at the time and used the trip to visit the CCP’s historic sites just to vent their dissatisfaction. Zhang said that the red tourism can gradually change people. Many believed that following the cultural revolution, no one would believe in the CCP anymore. Now the fact is that a significant percentage of people believe in the CCP. The most important goal for the red tourism is to (make people believe) that China would not have continued to exist if it were not for the communist party.

Source: Central News Agency, May 8, 2021
https://www.cna.com.tw/news/acn/202105080122.aspx

China’s New Administrative Measures on Religious Clergy

On May 1, the “Administrative Measures of Religious Clergy” promulgated by China’s State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) came into effect. The Administrative Measures, published on February 9 of this year, are composed of seven chapters and 52 articles, that define the “rights and obligations” of China’s religious clergy and regulate their behavior. Among them, Article 3 states that religious clergy should “love the motherland, support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and support the socialist system.” They should also “practice the core socialist values,” and adhere to the principle of “independence and self-management of religion” and the “direction of the localization of religions.”

On May 2, almost immediately after the implementation of these “Administrative Measures,” a video and several photos taken in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, went viral on the Internet. The video and photos show a local Christian clergyman preaching in a church, using a local dialect, and quoting the Bible to explain Xi Jinping’s political propaganda slogan, which includes “the main mission during the era of Xi Jinping.”

Pastor Liu Yi, now living in California who is also the founder of the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness, commented, “Under the control of the Chinese Communist Party, many so-called pastors and preachers in Christianity have taken it upon themselves to take the party’s position. They have used the pulpit of the church to become the mouthpiece for propagating the policies of the Chinese Communist Party. For example, the ‘sermons’ from a church in Zhejiang circulating online are very telling. They are not preaching the Bible, but rather, the propaganda of the Communist Party.”

Pastor Liu Yi explains that there are seven “national religious groups” in China, “namely, the Chinese Buddhist Association, the Chinese Taoist Association, the Chinese Islamic Association, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the Chinese Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Chinese Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee and the Chinese Christian Association. These national religious organizations are all under the direct leadership of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, May 4, 2021
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/shehui/sc-05042021141937.html

UDN: Jack Ma not Allowed to Leave China

United Daily News (UDN), one of the primary Taiwanese news groups, recently reported that Jack Ma, the founder of the Chinese online giant Alibaba, has not been allowed to leave the country. The Chinese authorities are currently investigating how Alibaba’s Ant Group, formerly known as Ant Financial and Alipay, received IPO approval so rapidly. The IPO was originally set to be the largest IPO in the world, but was later called off unexpectedly. Alibaba was fined RMB 18.2 billion (around US$2.8 billion) by the Chinese government on April 10, because of its market monopoly tactics. Two days later, the Ant Group was ordered to reform. The current round of investigation is focusing on the relationship between Jack Ma and important government officials. Ma is banned from leaving China until the investigation concludes. This is the first sign that indicates the investigation is spreading into government agencies. One of the key targets for this new investigation is the Shanghai Stock Exchange STAR Market, officially known as the Shanghai Stock Exchange Science and Technology Innovation Board. It is a Chinese science and technology focused equities market established on July 22, 2019, with strong support from Chinese Communist Party Secretary General Xi Jinping. Jack Ma originally planned to list Ant Group there, and on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange at the same time. This new round of investigation also includes some of China’s sovereign wealth funds.

Source: UDN, April 29, 2021
https://money.udn.com/money/story/12926/5421151

China Adopts Anti-espionage Regulation Targeting “Hostile Forces”

On April 26, 2021, China’s Ministry of State Security released a new anti-espionage regulation, which was to be effective immediately. The regulation allows the national security authority to draw up lists of companies and organizations susceptible to foreign infiltration, treating a broad range of entities, including potentially universities and private businesses, as if they are sensitive government agencies.

The regulation specifies that agencies, social groups, enterprises, public institutions, and other social organizations are primarily responsible for the unit’s anti-espionage security work.

On April 26, 2021, officials from the Ministry of State Security explained to the press, “Overseas espionage and intelligence agencies and hostile forces have intensified their infiltration into China, with more diverse methods and in broader fields, which pose a serious threat to China’s national security and interests.”

At the same time, “the core and vital areas still have issues such as which organizations bear the primary responsibilities for anti-espionage security and prevention measures that are not institutionalized.”  Officials from the Ministry of State security said that the regulation clarifies “what, who and how” to guard against foreign espionage.

According to the regulation, the Ministry of State Security will provide companies and organizations susceptible to foreign infiltration with work manuals, guides, and other publicity and education materials. The authorities will also issue written guidance, organize trainings, hold work meetings, and supervise anti-espionage work using different methods such as reminders and advice.

Under the regulation, the companies, organizations, or social groups have the responsibility of rolling out detailed measures against foreign espionage. The measures identified in the regulation include arranging their working staff to sign letters of commitment before taking up posts, reporting their activities related to national security, briefing personnel ahead of their trips overseas, and interviewing them after their return to China.

Sources:
1. People’s Daily, April 26, 2021
http://legal.people.com.cn/n1/2021/0426/c205462-32088423.html

2. Xinhua, April 26, 2021
http://www.xinhuanet.com/2021-04/26/c_1127376250.htm

Accused of Leaking Xi Jinping’s Daughter’s Info, 22-Year-Old Computer Genius Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison

On April 23, the Chinese high court affirmed the verdict of the lower court and sentence 22-year-old Niu Tengyu to a 14-year prison term. The verdict was issued in the absence of the defendant, the lawyers and the defendant’s family members. Niu and 23 other young people were accused of leaking the personal information of the daughter of Xi Jinping on the Internet.

In May 2019, the personal information of Xi Jinping’s daughter Xi Mingze and Xi Jinping’s brother-in-law Deng Jiagui appeared on two overseas websites called, “The Hong An Foundation” and “Shina.” China’s Ministry of Public Security formed a task force. Cyber police from Maoming city in Guangdong province arrested the members of “Esu wiki,” a website on the mainland. It was said to have connections with the two overseas websites because they were unable to catch the leakers overseas.

On December 30, 2020, the Maonan District Court in Maoming City, Guangdong Province issued a verdict that all 24 people who were arrested were found guilty. Niu, the primary suspect, was sentenced to 14 years in prison, and the rest of the people were sentenced to 1 to 4 years in prison. Niu was only 20 year old, and he is considered a computer genius.

Hong Kong Apple Daily reported that the Niu’s family accused the Maoming police of torturing and forcing Niu to “confess” that he was the primary lead in the case because they were unable to arrest the owners of the foreign websites. Niu’s mom has met with foreign diplomats from countries such as the U.S., the U.K and France to appeal her son’s arrest. She told Voice of America that she wishes that the diplomats would convey the truth to their country’s leaders because the arrested kids are being used as scapegoats and were wrongfully charged. She said that the authorities knew that the owners of the foreign websites admitted that they leaked the information and it has nothing to do with the members of Esu wiki. However, the authorities still told the parents to cooperate with the investigation and even closed the online chat groups that the parents had set up. They told the parents not to speak with any foreign media and threatened the defense lawyers, telling them that they cannot file a not guilty plea for the kids. Niu’s current lawyer is the fifth one. The police from Tianjingy took them away on April 23. Niu’s mom said Xi Jinping promoted the rule by law but the local officials have been covering up their mistakes and they have been “juggling” with the law. She assured those that she communicated with that the case is a wrongful conviction and she is going to fight for her rights all the way to the end.

Source: Central News Agency, April 23, 2021
https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/202104230291.aspx