Days after entering its second century, the Chinese Communist Party has set out its priority for the new era — tightening ideological control over 1.4 billion Chinese people.
This week, the party released a new guideline on ideological and political work, which targets not only its members but also “all of society.” Under President Xi Jinping, the party has waged its toughest ideological crackdown in decades. It has repeatedly warned against the “infiltration” of Western ideas, stoked aggressive nationalism, and stifled academic and press freedoms. And now, despite having silenced nearly all forms of dissent, the party appears to worry that it still doesn’t command enough ideological and political loyalty — and is launching a vast effort to redouble education on both fronts.
“Ideological and political work is the party’s fine tradition, distinct characteristic and prominent political advantage — it’s the lifeline of all its work,” the guideline said. “(It) has a significant bearing on the future fate of the party, the long-term stability of the country, and the cohesion and unity of the nation.” A central part of the campaign is focused on the promotion of “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era,” the political doctrine of Xi which was written into the party’s constitution in 2017. Before Xi, only Chairman Mao Zedong (“Mao Zedong Thought”) and paramount leader Deng Xiaoping (“Deng Xiaoping Theory”) had their eponymous political philosophies enshrined in the party’s theoretical pantheon.
Since 2017, Xi’s doctrine has been frequently studied by party cadres at meetings and on a specially designed propaganda mobile app designed to teach the philosophy. And now, the party wants the wider public to enhance their “sense of political, ideological, theoretical and emotional identification” with Xi’s ideology, according to the directive. Already, a campaign is gathering pace to get Xi’s doctrine further “into the textbooks, into the classrooms and into the brains of students,” according to the country’s Ministry of Education.