BY MARTIN KICH
According to an article by Chris Buckley published in the New York Times, “Chinese students, already immersed in classes and textbooks that promote nationalist loyalty to the Communist Party as a bedrock value, must be made even more patriotic and devoted to the party, even when they are studying in universities abroad, according to a new directive sent to education officials.”
Here are the next few paragraphs of Buckley’s article, which elaborate on what this new directive means:
“The directive, issued by the Communist Party organization of the Ministry of Education, calls for “patriotic education” to suffuse each stage and aspect of schooling, through textbooks, student assessments, museum visits and the Internet, which is the chief source of information for many young Chinese.
“’Organically instill the patriotic spirit into all subjects, curriculums and standards for primary, secondary and higher education in morals, language, history, geography, sports, arts and so on,’ says the document, which was approved in late January but publicized only on Tuesday by Xinhua, the state-run news agency.
“The document demands that university and college students be instructed more thoroughly to ‘always follow the party’ and be ‘clearly taught about the dangers of negativity about the history of the party, nation, revolution and reform and opening up, as well as of vilifying heroic figures.’
“Already, students are coached that the Communist Party has been the sole engine of progress in modern Chinese history, rescuing the country from humiliating subjugation to foreigners and restoring their nation to a position of respect and power on the global stage. Since students led the 1989 protests that occupied Tiananmen Square in Beijing, party leaders have made a priority of inoculating them against liberal values.
“But the new document shows how President Xi Jinping is taking demands for party proselytizing even further than his predecessors did, including beyond China’s borders. The directive says that Chinese students studying abroad must also be made a focus of instruction in Mr. Xi’s ‘China Dream’ of national revival.
“’Assemble the broad numbers of students abroad as a positive patriotic energy,’ the document says. ‘Build a multidimensional contact network linking home and abroad — the motherland, embassies and consulates, overseas student groups, and the broad number of students abroad — so that they fully feel that the motherland cares.’”
Buckley’s article also includes the following statistics: “By the end of 2014, almost 1.7 million Chinese students were studying abroad, according to the Ministry of Education, many of them in Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States. In the 2014-15 school year, just over 300,000 Chinese students were studying in the United States, an increase of nearly 11 percent over the previous year, according to the Institute of International Education, a nonprofit organization.”
I am absolutely certain that many, if not most, Americans will find these new directives from Xi Jinping’s government to be very troubling, if not chilling.
But, I suspect that those political figures who may be most outspoken about the dangers that this sort of indoctrination may ultimately pose to our own national interest may also be those who have been most supportive of broadly similar, ideologically driven directives to our own schools on what they should be teaching.
Certainly, in the shorter term, the inculcation of political values can produce intensified expressions political zealotry. But, in doing so, such political indoctrination actually undermines the staying power of the values that it ostensibly promotes and protects. For the longer-term preservation such values depends on a deeply felt appreciation of their importance and consequence–and their fragility. And such an appreciation of values depends, paradoxically, on the freedom to embrace the questioning of those values. For that sort of questioning is an exercise that in itself serves to preserve them.
Buckley’s complete article is available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/11/world/asia/china-patriotic-education.html?_r=0
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