Students at the Tsinghua University graduation ceremony in Beijing, China on July 18, 2007. (China Photos/Getty Images)
At one of China’s most prestigious universities, doing well on the senior year thesis or final dissertation won’t be enough to graduate with flying colors.
A document from administrators at Tsinghua University in Beijing—ranked 30th on the world university listing by Times Higher Education—was recently leaked online.
The notice, dated Jan. 4, 2017, was directed at instructors. It asked them to be more aware of students’ “political stance and ideology” when evaluating their submitted work for graduation, such as thesis papers and creative pieces. Teachers should also “intensify keeping close tabs on ideology when teaching,” the notice read. The same would be applied to undergraduates about to finish their bachelor’s degrees.
According to Liu Yinquan, a former history professor at Shandong University and current chief executive of the China Alliance Against Political Persecution, the notice indicated that students would be evaluated based on how their views aligned with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Liu said the regime is worried that the next generation of youth no longer believe in communist rule, and is thus stepping up “political brainwashing.” The purpose is to turn intellectuals into people who will defend the communist system, he said.
“But public opinion is already changing,” Liu said. “People have learned the truth [about the CCP] through the internet and communication with those outside China,”
The concept of “political evaluations” dates back to the Cultural Revolution, when Chinese were required to openly display their fervor and loyalty toward the Party, and denounce those who didn’t. People who belonged to Mao Zedong’s designated “five black categories”—landlords, wealthy farmers, counter-revolutionaries, bad elements, and “rightists” considered enemies of the revolution—were persecuted. Meanwhile, Party cadres were elite members of society, though could also be subject to “struggle sessions” if denounced.