China’s Education Minister, Yuan Guiren, has issued warnings about the threat of foreign ideas on the nation’s college campuses as the country’s officials continue to worry about Western philosophy corrupting its education system.
Dan Levin of the New York Times writes that Yuan Guiren believes “some countries” are fearful of China’s rise and that they have infiltrated China is more subtle and diverse ways, including through schools and textbooks.
China Digital Times has noted that Yuan Guiren declared last month that books promoting “Western values” to help “slander” or “smear” the Communist government and leadership should not be allowed in universities.
Yuan wrote his responses to the critics of his statements in the Communist Party journal “Quishi”, which means “speaking truth”, that universities are the “front line of ideology” and that trends on campuses need to be watched more closely.
Teachers and students are “key targets”, he says, for infiltration and corruption by the enemy. It is not made clear who “the enemy” is to which he refers, other than the fact that the enemies come from the West.
“But the government’s latest attempts to tighten controls over the nation’s intellectual discourse have raised concerns — and elicited rare open criticism — among teachers and students who reject the idea that foreign pedagogy and textbooks pose a threat to the government’s survival. Indeed, they note, one of the most vocal arguments against such controls came from the education minister himself.”
The Education Minister has done a political flip in recent years; as recently as March, 2011 he told a government advisory panel that restriction of western teaching materials was “wrongheaded,” according to Levin.
“We even sent so many people abroad and they weren’t affected in the nest of capitalism, so why fear they would be affected here?”
This recent increase in rhetoric may be happening because of protests which have appeared on university campuses, led by a generation of people who have had their view of the world broadened by experiencing other parts of the world and being exposed to more diversity in the university setting.
In Beichaun, China, students sing their school anthem, which includes the line “We are the new generation of little Red Army warriors” writes the National. The children’s uniforms match those worn by the Chinese army under Mao during the revolution.
“The Beichuan Red Army Elementary School’s anthem is taught alongside revolutionary history in an extreme example of the “patriotic education” which China’s ruling Communist party promotes to boost its legitimacy – but which critics condemn as little more than brainwashing.”
“China has stepped up ideological education in recent decades, after a decline that followed Mao’s decade-long Cultural Revolution.”
The schools are said to promote the great history of the Communist Party in China and serve the purpose of cementing the Communist ideological foundation with the children of the future.