To be honest, I was a little surprised to read that Marxism was important in China. I’m no expert at all but I’d always believed that Chinese communism was different to the Western variety due to its Maoist influence. I thought it was Maoism rather than Marxism.
However the Economist reports that Chinese officials are stepping up a govt campaign to control what universities teach. They see a need to quell any creeping influence of what they call “western values’ and ensure that the only ideas students are exposed to are Marxist ideas. Quite a bit like western universities I guess but just a little less subtle.
According to the Economist, officials have been speaking in the harshest terms heard in years about the danger of “harmful Western influences” on campuses, and the need to tighten ideological control over students and academic staff.
The Communist Party appoints University Presidents. Its committees on campuses vet the appointment of teaching staff. Students are required to study Marxist theory and socialism. Students sign up for party membership in droves, believing it to be a path to career success.
On January 19th Xinhua, a state-controlled news agency, published a summary of a document issued secretly by the central authorities in October. It directed universities to “strengthen” their efforts to spread the party’s propaganda and promote its ideology. It told them to educate students better in the history of the party. The document also urged educators “firmly to resist infiltration by hostile forces”.
Yuan Guiren, the education minister, declared at a conference that “textbooks promoting Western values” would not be allowed in classrooms.
On February 6th a commentary in the People’s Daily, the party’s main mouthpiece, quoted the party chief of Renmin University in Beijing as saying that Marxist thinking must “enter textbooks, enter classrooms and enter brains”.
The crackdown appears to have been prompted by a feeling that universities are occasionally falling under the influence of liberal thinking. One newspaper, Liaoning Daily, reported late last year that 80% of students it surveyed in more than 20 universities scattered across five cities had encountered academics who had complained about China or smeared it in class.
Hardliners had been waiting for an opportunity to pounce, and they have taken it. The Chinese Red Culture Institute stated “Those who smash the Communist Party’s cooking pot, we will take away their bowls.”