At the South China Morning Post, Cary Huang reports that a majority of grant proposals approved by China’s National Social Sciences Fund this year were for projects to study Xi Jinping’s thoughts and ideology as displayed in his official speeches:
Analysts said the shift pointed towards the increasing influence of propaganda over academia, and the emergence of a cult of personality around Xi.
The grants, some worth as much as 800,000 yuan (HK$1 million), are decided by the National Planning Office of Philosophy and Social Science. The organisation falls under the party’s Publicity Department and is headed by propaganda chief Liu Qibao . Despite that proximity to the censors, the office has previously shown a willingness to support a wider range of research proposals. But this year, five of the 12 top topics on the list to receive major funding are about Xi. And none of the chosen scholars has a published history of “Xi thought”, which suggests academics are pushing topics likely to get approval rather than ones in their area of expertise.
“It is ridiculous to find that Xi’s speeches have topped this year’s list, a phenomenon unseen under previous administrations,” Renmin University political science professor Zhang Ming said. “This year’s list has shown that the party propaganda authorities are promoting the cult of personality.”
The fund was established in 1991 and awards grants to study up to 2,000 research projects in the social sciences, about a few dozen of which are deemed “major projects” and eligible for a larger share of the money. The funding given to each major project jumped from between 250,000 yuan and 300,000 yuan last year to 400,000 yuan this year. The biggest projects will receive as much as 800,000 yuan. […] [Source]
The promotion of ideological orthodoxy in the Party and the populace has been a hallmark of Xi Jinping’s presidency to date, and frequent image-crafting campaigns have helped to secure the president widespread popularity. Also see CDT’s translated list of major research projects funded by the National Social Sciences Fund in 2013.