A hallmark of Xi Jinping’s leadership to date has been the heavy promotion of ideological orthodoxy. This has taken shape in official orders for Party members to refrain from “echoing Western values,” the promotion of “Marxist news values” among journalists, an appeal for creatives to spread Socialist-inspired art and literature, and most recently, a call for better “ideological guidance” in universities. At the South China Morning Post, Li Jing reports on a new directive from the State Council and the CCP Central Committee order for ideologically sound coursework at colleges and universities:
Universities should “equip teachers and students with ‘socialism with Chinese characters'”, and become key bases for “learning, researching and disseminating” Marxism, the directive said. Theories of Chinese socialism should get into not only “textbooks and classrooms”, but also “[students’] heads”. Colleges would be assessed on their use of set textbooks on Marxism.
[…] The document said applicants for university jobs would be assessed on their political views and teachers would lose their posts for breaching “teaching ethics”.
Education on “core socialist values” – including prosperity, democracy and social harmony – would be strengthened. Students would also be taught the importance of national security to “resist infiltration by hostile forces”. [Source]
For a translation of Xinhua’s summary of the directive, see Rogier Creemers China Copyright and Media blog.
Media has long been a major conduit for “public opinion guidance,” and in the digital age, the Internet has become a primary battleground for ideological work. As Secretary Xi has been steadily encouraging correct thought, his administration has taken many measures to crackdown on dissenting speech online. Last year, Xi appointed Lu Wei,—a new-media savvy propaganda official 2.0—to head the Cyberspace Administration of China, the nation’s top Internet regulator (formerly known as the State Internet Information Office). After a major crackdown on Sina’s once lively Weibo microblogging platform was given partial credit for a mass migration to instant messaging services, Tencent last week closed over a hundred public WeChat accounts for “distorting history.” A post from David Bandurski at China Media Project ties authorities’ recent targeting of WeChat to broader efforts at “guiding public opinion” through controlling the historical narrative, predicting that more WeChat accounts will soon face closure:
China’s leaders reserve the right — the power, that is — to shape the country’s historical discourse, which has always been an integral part of its overall project of “public opinion guidance.” This is why the approach of important historical anniversaries, like that of June Fourth or the Cultural Revolution, has always set leaders on edge.
WeChat is coming under attack because it has emerged as an alternative platform offering unwelcome versions of history through public accounts, or gonghao (公号), that can attracts tens or even hundreds of thousands of viewers. Public accounts are the new bedrock of We Media, or zimeiti (自媒体), in China, and they have prompted a wave of content experimentation.
I think we can safely suppose that WeChat is very, very far from out of the woods. […] [Source]
For more on the intersection of ideological reinforcement efforts aimed at venues of higher education and social media platforms, see CDT’s translation of a Communist Youth League directive to establish Internet propaganda teams at universities nationwide.