With the start of the Chinese school year from 1st September, all elementary and secondary students face a new mandatory class – ‘Xi Jinping Thoughts on Socialism’ to help “establish Marxist belief” in the country’s young minds. The new curriculum highlights how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Xi are focusing on ideological control of the population as the course, referred to as “Xi Thought,” trickles down from Chinese universities, where it was introduced in 2020.
The move is being interpreted as Xi’s latest move to expand the Chinese Communist Party’s role in every walk of life from businesses to cultural institutions, schools and colleges. The education ministry said in a statement that the effort was aimed “to cultivate the builders and successors of socialism with an all-round moral, intellectual, physical and aesthetic grounding”. The Chinese Ministry of Education made the new course mandatory for elementary through graduate school students in its guideline published on August 24, which expands a requirement that began at the university level in 2020.
According to the guideline, primary schools will focus on cultivating a love for the country, the Chinese Communist Party and socialism so they will follow the Party from a young age. In middle school, the class will showcase CCP accomplishments and help students understand the essence of Xi Thought. The new curriculum will be taught throughout the country to make sure the content will get into the brains of students from a tender age.
Since coming to power in 2012, the Chinese President has sought to strengthen the Communist Party’s role in all areas of society, including its businesses, schools and cultural institutions. “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” was formally enshrined in the country’s constitution in 2018.
It’s no surprise that as Xi prepares to extend his rule beyond the two five-year terms, he and the CCP want his philosophy, or thought, to be taught to children as young as 6 to make it seem as normal a part of education as multiplication tables, said Didi Kirsten Tatlow, a China watcher quoted by Voice of America (VOA). “Propaganda and political instruction have been part of education in China since 1949, as the Communist Party understands exactly the power of shaping people’s minds, especially when they are young and malleable,” Tatlow added.
“This is how to control the next generation and ensure continued support for the party and Xi. Coupled with an ongoing push to ‘party-build’ in all walks of life including business, it shows Xi and the party are doubling down on ideological control,” Tatlow told VOA. “Party building” refers to efforts to purify CCP organizations and strengthen support from party members as well as average Chinese citizens.
The move is aimed at brainwashing the young minds said Perry Link, an expert on contemporary Chinese politics at the University of California. “It’s time that we call a spade a spade. This is brainwashing,” Link said.
The Study Times, an official journal of the Central Party School, stated that Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era represents a form of 21st century Marxism. In other words, people must have faith in Marxism, according to Xi, and, conveniently for him, this faith is basically indistinguishable from Xi Jinping Thought according to the CCP.
Thus, the Xi Thoughts are being forced to be co-opted and slowly replaced by the CCP’s official faith, with China’s paramount leader Xi Jinping as the ultimate arbiter of the country’s specific values, morals, ethics, and societal goals. No wonder, in China, ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ is fast becoming a religion.