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China Bans ‘Western Values’ From Textbooks, Attacks Teachers


China’s Communist government is cracking down on ideas that could undermine its regime, with its top education official condemning school textbooks that promote “Western values.”

“Never let textbooks promoting Western values appear in our classes,” said Education Minister Yuan Guiren, according to the official state Xinhua news agency.

Offending works include those that “slander the leadership of the Communist Party of China” and “smear socialism,” he said. Ironically, Chinese Communism itself could be described as a “Western value,” as it is derived from the works of Karl Marx.

The announcement is not quite an official ban, but rather a strong warning to university administrators to shape up and avoid works that offend Communist sensibilities.

Guiren also said that officials must keep a lid on individual teachers as well.

“Never allow teachers to complain in the classroom, vent grievances, or transfer negative emotions to students,” he said. Instead, universities should promote the ideals of current Chinese president Xi Jinping.

The announcement is part of a wider campaign in the one-party state to suppress potential sources of dissent in its schools. Last year, president Xi called for greater ideological supervision in universities, and several high-profile professors who advocated democratization or greater academic freedom have been fired.

Just what effect the demand will have on current instruction is unclear. Zhou Jinbo, an economics professor at Peking University, told The New York Times that foreign textbooks are common in many subjects because they are superior to what China can offer itself. One such popular work is Gregory Mankiw’s “Principles of Economics,” a work that generally favors mainstream Western economic views.

“If you want to change this, it’ll take a huge amount of effort,” Zhou said. “Much of that literature is from abroad — about foreign problems and how foreigners approach them because the work from abroad is still ahead of us.”

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