A campaign to have Chinese children from the age of 10 study President Xi Jinping’s political philosophy has been described as “disgusting” by some parents and evoked memories of the cult of Mao Zedong’s personality.
More than a dozen parents across the country told the Financial Times they were uncomfortable with next month’s rollout of “Xi Jinping Thought” classes. The eponymous philosophy, which features a mixture of patriotic education and praise for the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, will be part of the national curriculum from elementary school to university next month.
“I really hate the idea of forcing children to study ideology,” said a mother of a 10-year-old in eastern Jiangsu Province who did not want to be identified. “But I cannot express my concern in front of my son.”
“It’s disgusting,” said a father of a school-aged girl in central Henan Province who also refused to be identified by name. He hoped that his daughter “would forget everything when the exam was over.”
The backlash highlighted the party’s difficulty in making Mr. Xi’s philosophy the dominant ideology of the nation for generations to come.
While the party has forced the teaching of Communist ideology in schools for decades, the latter program will be forced upon an unusually young audience. It is also more narrowly focused on the worship of a single leader, bringing back memories of Mao’s decade-long Cultural Revolution, which resulted in the deaths of millions of people.
For the past 30 years, Communist doctrine has only featured in Chinese school lessons in middle school, with textbooks featuring a wider range of former Chinese leaders.
“China is embracing a cult of personality as diversity and inclusion gain ground in other parts of the world,” said Ming Xia, professor of political science at the City University of New York.
Beginning in grade three, students will take one class per week on Xi’s ideas, with the same textbooks used in each province. The course will last one semester and will also apply to high school, college and graduate students.
According to a circular issued this week by the Office of the National Textbook Committee of the Ministry of Education, elementary school students should be aware that “General Secretary Xi is guiding the entire party and the Chinese people,” while the graduate students should be able to “make known, interpret and study” his thoughts.
The committee filled textbooks with photos of Mr. Xi and quotes from his speeches. Wu Yujun, a professor at Peking Normal University and one of the authors of the third-year textbook, said students should get to know the president “from a short distance.”
Love for china
The third-grade textbook tells how Mr. Xi’s love for China was ignited by a lecture his mother gave him at a young age on a patriotic general in the Song Dynasty.
The fifth-grade textbook describes Mr. Xi, who briefly served as an assistant to the defense minister but has no military experience, as an “old soldier” who often wore military uniforms in his youth and had a “deep feeling.” for the army.
Some teachers even asked the students to thank Mr. Xi for being able to enjoy their favorite hobbies. During a test class on Xi’s philosophy this year, a teacher at a Hangzhou-based school known for its strong football program told student players that they had benefited from the leader’s “benevolence”.
Zhang Jiajia, the teacher, said in a televised speech, “I made the students realize that Grandpa Xi is always with us and always encourages us. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021