Barring freedom of speech, 'Western values' in universities:

Beijing reacts to backlash over work of 'positive' propaganda.



'Three Forbids' Barring Western Influence in Universities are 'Misunderstood' (Huanqiu, China)


Forbidding things, often in groups of three, is a time honored tradition for Chinese authorities. The newest set, dubbed the 'Three Forbids', which were recently announced by China Education Minister Yuan Guiren, relate to keeping Western influence, particularly the right to free speech, out of university classrooms. It would appear that the backlash against Guiren's pronouncement, given the victimized tone of this editorial from state-run Huanqiu, has been withering. The newspaper suggests that, as has occurred before, the 'positive' work of 'propaganda and ideology' by Chinese authorities is 'prone to being depicted as negative, and if handled badly could blacken the image of the party and country.'




Translated By John Chen


January 31, 2015


People's Republic of China - Huanqiu - Original Article (Chinese) at an educational forum on Jan. 29, Education Minister Yuan Guiren has called the expression of public opinion on the Internet a "hornet's nest". The forum was called to further implement new State Council directives to improve and strengthen propaganda and ideological education on the 'Three Forbids" in the classroom: Forbid allowing opinions that defame or attack the [Communist] Party leadership or discredit socialism; forbid the expression of opinions that violate the Constitution or other laws; and forbid teachers from expressing complaints, grievances and negativity that could be transferred to students. In addition, Yuan said that textbooks which preach Western values must not be permitted in classrooms.


Some people greatly misinterpreted and attacked Yuan's remarks, which have been met with strong criticism on the Internet. The minister's criticism of the spread of Western values within universities has triggered a very energetic public debate.


It should be noted that official opposition to preaching Western values relates essentially to Western political values, not those of Western society as a whole. Western political values don't correspond to China's political reality. In the event that there is a large-scale penetration of such values into Chinese society, they will inevitably erode China's political foundations and result in severe uncertainty and instability within its political system.


Since the influence of Western political values on China's Internet sphere is easily observed, rostrums in university classrooms are unlikely to remain free of the impact. Therefore, it is indeed necessary that within the university setting, advocacy of ideology and propaganda should be more in keeping with the needs of our times.


Some insist that the university atmosphere requires absolute "freedom of speech." This debate must be resolutely fought – and resolved. University educators must not only understand, but they must let the nation know, that while students can be taught about differing values, they must be loyal to the mainstream values of their own society. Conversely, the West would never allow their university sphere to be at the service of the renaissance of China, the decline of the West as a bastion of the world and the acceptance of a peaceful transfer of influence.


While fostering a new system for propaganda and ideological work is a work in progress, its purpose is very clear. It is not aimed at traditional academic activity or teachers and students performing in the normal range. The description some people have of this work amount to absurd flights of imagination, and some genuinely misunderstand, having a conditioned response based on the experiences of the past. Others deliberately want the system rolled out prematurely to see it discredited.


One should note that the work of propaganda is one of China's most difficult fields and successfully carrying it out in our increasingly vibrant colleges and universities is a long-term challenge. We need to face reality: propaganda and ideological work is for the sake of positive effect, but is prone to being depicted as negative, and if handled badly could "blacken" the image of the party and country.


Since Reform and Opening Up, this country has repeatedly emphasized propaganda and ideological work and has learned many lessons in this area. Since Western values penetrated this field and Western soft power has generally been regarded as stronger than ours, the promotion of ideology has often been met with misunderstanding or even public opposition. This is precisely the type of reaction there has been to reports on Minister Yuan Guiren's speech, which have played out in the Internet.

Posted By Worldmeets.US


The work of propaganda and ideology in colleges and universities requires not only determination and confidence, but concrete plans and follow-up action. It should not become a bureaucratic formality imposed by university administrators instructed to implement a process that ends up with plenty of thunder but very few thirst-quenching raindrops.


A healthy tree can withstand attack by the most evil trends. When the battle gets contentious the authorities must avoid extreme thinking and chose their targets carefully in order to win the support of majority of teachers, students and the public. To hit the right targets, much more positive work needs to be carried out. If the authorities underestimate the difficulty of ideological work in colleges and universities, hold a few meetings, alter some of the curricula and remind a few people to "mind their tongues," even if the task is carried out the results could make things worse.




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Posted By Worldmeets.US January 31, 2015, 8:25pm






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