Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dangerous… except for…

Another Western reporter has noted the anti-Western campaign in Chinese education. Dan Levin, writing in The New York Times, notes a couple ironies as well. Being ideologically pure is really difficult.

China Tells Schools to Suppress Western Ideas, With One Big Exception
Yuan Guiren
China’s education minister, Yuan Guiren… has been issuing dire alarms about the threat of foreign ideas on the nation’s college campuses, calling for a ban on textbooks that promote Western values and forbidding criticism of the Communist Party’s leadership in the classroom…

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.

Four years ago, he told a prominent government advisory panel that restricting the use of Western teaching materials was wrongheaded…

[H[e added, “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?”…

To gird China’s impressionable young minds, Mr. Yuan has been championing new guidelines, issued last month, that call on the country’s higher education institutions to prioritize the teaching of Marxism, ideological loyalty to the party and the views of President Xi Jinping…

The notion that Western ideas are potentially subversive has been greeted with widespread incredulity, especially among Chinese intellectuals who note that Communism itself is a Western import. Xia Yeliang, a visiting fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, said the campaign to vilify Western values was hypocritical.

Marx
“Was Karl Marx an Eastern person?” asked Mr. Xia, who was an economist at Peking University until 2013, when he was fired for what he says were his anti-establishment political views. “Weren’t Marxism and socialism adopted from the West?”…

Though many academics have kept their frustrations private to avoid losing their jobs, some have openly expressed concern that limiting the availability of foreign textbooks and stifling classroom discussion would undermine China’s quality of education…

Party ideologues have counterattacked in the state media in recent days, demanding harsh punishment for would-be liberal enemies, including prominent entrepreneurs, lawyers, artists and professors. In an editorial on Wednesday, Zhu Jidong, an official in the National Cultural Security and Ideology Construction department at the China Academy of Social Sciences, argued that the authorities must “eliminate the teachers who often publish criticism attacking the party and socialism before we can truly uphold virtue and condemn evil.”…

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