Commentary on Political Economy

Thursday 4 February 2021


China Teaches School Children ‘Do as President Xi Tells You’

Bloomberg News
  • ‘Xi Thought’ should be at core of teacher’s training materials
  • Kids are the latest channel for raising Xi’s personal profile

China’s schoolchildren are next in line for intensifying study of President Xi Jinping’s teachings ahead of the ruling Communist Party’s centennial celebration in July.

The party’s Central Committee issued new guidelines on Wednesday to boost ideological education among the Chinese Young Pioneers, a national youth organization with which it is affiliated. The guidelines said that all children in primary school and the first two years of secondary school should have one class per week to carry out Young Pioneers activities, and the core training materials for the teaching staff should be Xi thought.

Members of the Young Pioneers should be taught to “firmly bear in mind” the teachings of Xi, and “do what Xi has instructed,” the guidelines said.

In China, everyone from diplomats to executives to sci-fi writers are under pressure to incorporate the broad, often fuzzy tenets of “Xi Thought” into their policies, part of an effort to elevate it alongside Maoism and help consolidate the president’s effort to further cement control.

The document also urged teaching the children that “today’s happy life comes ultimately from the correct leadership of the Party” as well as “from the superiority of our socialist system.”

Strengthening “political enlightenment and forming of values” among children is of strategic importance to make sure the “red genes are passed down from generations to generations,” party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, said Thursday on its front page, citing the guidelines.

Another state-backed newspaper, the China Daily, cited the guidelines in a piece headlined “Cultivation of Children Seen as Strategic.” The paper wrote that children are the future of the nation and the Communist Party, which had always made cultivating the country’s in a good manner a “strategic” and “fundamental” task.

The Pioneers’ Role

The guidelines come as Xi visited a village in the southwestern Guizhou province that state media said has successfully eradicated poverty. Posing for photos with people from the Miao ethnic minority dressed in traditional clothes, Xi sent greetings to all Chinese people ahead of the Lunar New Year, which this year falls on Feb. 11. The president also inspected cleaning work of a previously contaminated river.

The Chinese Young Pioneers was founded in 1949 and includes almost all children in China between the ages of six and 14. It has played an “irreplaceable role” in guiding generations of children to follow the instructions of the party, according to the guidelines.

While it was unclear what its current membership total was, data from 2007 put the figure at around 130 million.

The guidelines also called for the promotion of exchanges between Young Pioneers in the mainland and children’s’ organizations in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, so as to enhance the “national, ethnic and cultural identity” of youth in these areas.

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