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China's Xi Jinping wants universities to show more allegiance to Communist Party

The Chinese government has reprimanded its higher education institutions for becoming too lax when it comes to Communist ideology. The call follows reports of an increase in "Western theories" in Chinese universities.

Students at the Nanjing University of Finance and Economics

Students at the Nanjing University of Finance and Economics

Speaking to delegates at a meeting on higher education, Xi said China's universities must "serve the rule of the Chinese Communist Party and serve to strengthen and promote socialism with Chinese characteristics."

"Adherence to the Party's leadership is essential to the development of higher education," the president said, adding that China's universities must serve as Party "strongholds."

Xi detailed his arguments, saying the Communist Party's policies in education needed to be implemented and that the party needed to ensure that its grassroots organizations did "ideological and political work" in schools.

He also called for more lessons in Marxist theory, saying universities in China were "under the leadership of the CCP and were socialist colleges with Chinese characteristics, so higher education must be guided by Marxism."

Xi has keep artists and independent thinkers on a tight leash

Xi has keep artists and independent thinkers on a tight leash

Beijing has been campaigning against what it perceives as the spread of "Western values" at universities. In January, administrators sent inspectors to monitor teachers for "improper remarks" in class. Some Chinese professors also wrote a letter saying economics students were being "brainwashed by Western theories" and called for more Marxism in classrooms.

China's tightening of control over universities is nothing new and authorities keep a tab on curriculums and speeches, fearing a repeat of the 1989 pro-democracy protests. Under President Xi, Chinese administrators have targeted free expression, jailing activists and lawyers and tightening the noose on journalists.

Critics say Beijing's attitude towards freedom of expression and academic independence could spoil its ambitions to build world-class universities.

mg/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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