Primary and secondary schools all over China have been implementing increasingly rigorous parameters regarding teaching materials. The Ministry of National Education seeks to adopt—without omission—the ideological guidelines of the Chinese communist regime for each new generation of Chinese student.
According to Bitter Winter magazine, the new study material is related to three courses: Chinese language, history, and “morality and rule of law.” The verification of the texts also aims to eradicate any Western influence found in the content.
Tian Huisheng, director of the Ministry of Education’s Teaching Materials Office, said at a press conference on Aug. 27, 2019, “The textbooks for the three courses have serious ideological attributes and reflect the national will and core socialist values.”
Chinese analyst Willy Lam, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong, told CNN that the ban is the latest example of the “tremendous effort to control the Chinese mind from outside influence.”
In addition, in an effort to ensure the proper implementation of textbooks, the Ministry of Education plans to send specialized personnel to train teachers to ensure that the interpretation of teaching materials is appropriate and is not taught prior to the training.
Regarding the initiative of the regime’s educational system, a Chinese language teacher from the Guanxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China said, “During the training, the expert said that the reform was introduced mainly because the previous curriculum for the Chinese language, history, politics ‘worshipped’ Western values and suffered serious Westernization.”
“It failed to ‘implement the Party and the state’s major guidelines on teaching materials work,’ so that the trained students may long for Western democracy and freedom and would not know patriotism,” the teacher explained.
He also said that during the training it was indicated that in order for the state to be able to solve such problems it had to “establish a high-ranking institution that coordinates the nationwide work on teaching materials.”
Another teacher who attended the training in the central province of Henan said that at the meeting the experts stated that Western democracy was full of flaws and that there were no human rights, arguing that people had become greedy and undisciplined under the Western democratic system.
“When we taught foreign modern history, we all admired Western countries, as they already had democracy. This curriculum reform demands to only teach the goodness of China’s autocracy and the limitation of democracy. We are asked to constantly introduce the core socialist values and patriotic sentiment into our lessons,” said the history teacher.
In addition to rejecting Western democracy, the study material to be implemented also prohibits religious images where temples and even texts that are related to religion are seen. According to Bitter Winter, some teachers noted that the words “God,” “prayer,” “Christ” or “Bible” had been removed from the texts.
The reform also emphasized the training of students, since according to the Ministry of Education, students have “the great responsibility for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The training also made it clear that those who use their talents and education to “engage in ethnic separatism” and “defame their country and people” should be punished.
Some other teachers who attended the training told Bitter Winter that the experts used Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests as an example, pointing out that the rampant youth in Hong Kong did not recognize their Chinese identity and that ‘inferior’ teaching materials were to blame.
According to Lam, “This is part of the country’s thought control apparatus,” he said. “The timing of the new ban has coincided with the open repudiation of Communist Party values by protesters in Hong Kong, and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen ahead of the (Taiwanese) presidential election (on Jan. 11).