By Tsering Choephel
DHARAMSALA, 31 October: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) passed ‘The Patriotic Education Law’ on October 24, aimed at strengthening patriotic education for children and families nationwide. This legislation serves as a legal guarantee for the execution of patriotic education, as reported by Chinese state-run Xinhua.
The law, scheduled to take effect in 2024, aims to counter “historical nihilism” and safeguard “national unity.” It places the responsibility for promoting patriotic education on virtually all social institutions and organisations.
The term ‘historical nihilism’ is employed by the CCP to denote any opinions and observations that deviate from the party’s description of past history.
This all-encompassing law covers ideology, politics, history, culture, national symbols, the beauty of the motherland, national unity and ethnic solidarity, national security and defense, and the deeds of heroes. It adheres to the principles enshrined in Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, Marxism-Leninism, Deng Xiaoping Thought, and Mao Zedong Thought.
The law reportedly also applies to government officials, employees, villagers, and residents in the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Taiwan. This makes it the first bill specifically targeting residents of those regions.
According to the Taipei Times, the Premier of Taiwan, Chen Chien-jen, decried the new law as futile and nonsensical, stating, “A state that demands patriotism from its people has to earn that love by governing well and being worthy of public trust.” Using a Chinese idiom, he likened the CCP’s constitutionalising patriotism to “climbing a tree to catch fish.”
While the CCP’s control over the educational sector is its long-standing practice, this expanded Patriotic Education Law indicates full control and manoeuvring of both governmental and civil organisations to serve the party’s agenda, with negative consequences for those who disobey.
CCP’s passage of a flurry of laws on national security, espionage, and patriotic education in the last few years comes against the backdrop of Xi’s continuing consolidation of power and the cracks in China’s economic and party stability, highlighted by the housing crisis, youth unemployment, and unexpected shuffling of key positions within the CCP
As of 2021, China’s top propaganda department had reportedly established 585 patriotic education bases, expected to become more active and stronger.
On 27 October, just three days after the passing of the new law, the Political Bureau of the CCP Central Committee conducted the ninth group study session on forging a strong sense of community for the Chinese nation, as per Chinese state media Xinhua. Presiding over the meeting, Xi directed comprehensive efforts in promoting standard spoken and written Chinese language, and the use of unified state-complied textbooks.
Moreover, he called for population mobility in ethnic minority regions, ostentatiously saying it is to “forge a strong sense of community for the Chinese nation.” He emphasised the implementation of directives in areas with large ethnic minority populations, referring to the occupied regions of Tibet and East Turkistan.
This year, the Chinese authorities have banned the teaching and use of the Tibetan language at elementary and middle schools in Karze and Ngaba, located in Tibet’s traditional provinces of Kham and Amdo, respectively.
Xi’s drive for the “rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” practically translates into the “eclipse” of the Tibetan language, religion, culture and way of life.