Beijing has issued a new set of “patriotic education” guidelines, calling on the public to nurture an “open and tolerant, rational and peaceful” attitude to a fast-changing world and China’s place in it.
Although the guidelines offer mainly general principles, they cover a broad range of areas for patriotic education, including schools, Communist Party activities, the media, new technologies and mass entertainment.
The guidelines – jointly issued by the Communist Party’s Central Committee and the State Council – define patriotism as not just love of the motherland but also of socialism and the Communist Party.
“[We must] … stand firm in insisting that the leadership of the Communist Party, and continuing on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics are the fundamental guarantees [for China] to achieve national prosperity,” the introduction to the guidelines said.
They made clear that while supporting party’s agenda was important, patriotism should go hand in hand with opening up to the outside world.
“We should not be overly proud of ourselves but at the same time don’t be timid. We should build our self-esteem and self-confidence, and [understand that we are] rational and peaceful people.
“[We need] to step up our promotion and advocacy of important ideas that emphasise peaceful development and win-win [cooperation], the joint building of a better world for humanity [among nations] and the Belt and Road initiative.”
The document also included references to extending patriotic education to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
“[We should] strengthen the practical education of ‘one country, two systems’, channel people including compatriots in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan and overseas Chinese so they can have a stronger sense of national identity, and will conscientiously safeguard national unity and cohesion of the Chinese race,” it said.
Li Xiaobing, an expert on Hong Kong law at Nankai University in Tianjin, said the anti-extradition bill movement in Hong Kong – which triggered months of protests in the city – “exposed serious problems in Hongkongers’ national identity education. The revised patriotic education guidelines are a response to that.
“Hong Kong youth born after 1997 … see many conflicts in the special administrative region’s relationship with the central government. That has damaged the building of their national identity.
“But it is never too late. We should not only make up for the inadequate national education for the last 25 years, but also find new ways to shape their future,” Li said.
The new guidelines also stress the need to adopt new technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, with teenagers the priority targets for patriotic education.