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In China and Russia, patriotic education means Xi Jinping’s thoughts and lies on Ukraine

In China and Russia, patriotic education means Xi Jinping’s thoughts and lies on Ukraine
In China and Russia, patriotic education means Xi Jinping’s thoughts and lies on Ukraine


In Russian classrooms, a draftsman of elementary school students receives a visit from the police. In China, schools and universities are required to teach Xi Jinping Thought and refrain from Western concepts of liberalism and democracy. Education in both countries has been infused – some would say infected – with local versions of patriotic education.”

Patriotism appears in schools around the world via the pledge of allegiance to the United States, classroom portraits of kings and queens in monarchies, and the singing of national anthems in other countries. In his final months in office, President Donald Trump vowed to create a 1776 commission to restore patriotic education to our schools.

While debate rages in the United States over what is taught (and not taught) in American classrooms, the Russian and Chinese versions of patriotic education are extreme.

According to Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, schoolchildren in Russia and China are being given heavy doses of the world – as well as lessons in the ills of the West. This is a worrying trend not only because regimes are entering classrooms, but also because patriotic education in these countries will likely harden new generations’ attitudes toward the United States.

School for the Rejuvenation of the Nation

Nationalism has a long history in China’s classrooms; decades ago, students learned of the relative strength of Chinese culture and said children were regularly hungry in the United States

Xi Jinping went further.

In 2016, during Xi’s first term, the government deployed a national program that places pro-China teachings at the forefront. In 2021, the Ministry of Education ordered the enrollment of Xi Jinping Thought in schools and universities to help teenagers establish Marxist beliefs. More recently, a February directive called for law schools to resist erroneous Western views such as constitutional government and the independence of the judiciary.

Educators who break the rules face penalties, and the informants are often their own students.

University professors who dare to deviate from textbooks in the new era of Xi are flagged by student informants who keep tabs on their professors’ ideological views, Suisheng Zhao, a professor of Chinese politics at the University of Denver Josef Korbel School of International Studies, wrote last year.

That’s what happened to Xu Zhangrun, professor of law at Tsinghua University. Student tells local authorities that Xu criticized government’s COVID policies; the professor was imprisoned for six days and lost his job.

Many Chinese students embrace the push for patriotic learning. As Zhao said, young Chinese, once the bearers of new attitudes that challenged the authorities, are increasingly part of the Chinese regime’s defense operations.

Case in point: what happened at Hefei Normal University in Anhui Province in March. A professor launched a pro-Western rant that was also heavily laced with racism and homophobia. Among other things, he argued that students should marry foreigners to have smarter children.

The teacher was suspended (a professor saying the same things at an American university probably would have been too), but the students’ anger was directed at his positive comments about the West. A student ran onto the stage, grabbed the microphone and shouted: Let’s study for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation! and Do not cross paths with Americans!

Classmates cheered and official responses to the incident widely praised the student.

Chalk one for patriotic education.

When Patriotic Education Means Lying About War

Russian President Vladimir Putin has preached extreme nationalism for most of his two decades in office. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this ideology has been refined to include defamation of Ukrainians, the United States and the West in general.

Today, these extremes are visible in Russian classrooms.

Former Russian TV presenter Stanislav Kucher, who emigrated to the United States in 2019, says a militant form of patriotism has taken root in Russian schools.

Ukrainian war veterans have come to schools to give children the official Kremlin version of the war, including the view that Russia was pressured by NATO to attack Ukraine, Kucher told The Messenger. And they offer optimistic scenarios of how the special operation will end in victory.

In March 2022, two weeks into the war, the Russian Ministry of Education asked public schools to teach the Kremlins’ version of the invasion. The objective was to explain to the children “why the liberation mission in Ukraine is a necessity”.

The teachers received textbooks, a copy of which fell into the hands of journalists from the opposition publication Meduza. The textbooks were full with questions kids might ask about the invasion and talking points from the Kremlin for teachers.

Since September 2022, extracurricular activities have been added under the heading Razgovory about important (Conversations about what’s important). These straightforward teachers tell students that the Russian military does not attack civilians and that Putin had no choice but to invade Ukraine. According to official statements, the idea is to “reinforce traditional Russian spiritual and moral values” and “teach patriotism”.

Kamran Manafly, a 28-year-old geography teacher from Moscow, refused to use government textbooks. When he posted on Instagram that he didn’t want to mirror state propaganda, he was fired for immoral behavior.

A woman named Evgenia, in the town of Khimki, spoke to The Messenger about her 10-year-old daughter’s experience at school.

They now feature military performances instead of fairy tales, she said. Students are required to wear men’s pants and shirts, and black shoes. They all looked alike, walking in a circle. I was horrified.

Elena, a mother of five from Kaliningrad, said children in her daughter’s kindergarten had to write letters to soldiers at the front.

Since they still can’t write, educators wrote for them, and children drew pictures, Elena said.

It is not only teachers who have been punished for deviating from the message.

In February, Aleksey Moskalyov, a resident of the Tula region in central Russia, was arrested after posting an anti-war message on Russian social media, and after his 13-year-old daughter Masha drew an image of Russian and Ukrainian flags, missiles flying over a woman and child, and the words No to War and Glory to Ukraine.

On March 1, Masha was sent to an orphanage; his father was sentenced to two years in prison for discrediting the Russian armed forces. (Masha has Since was returned to her mother, with whom she had not lived for seven years.)

According to the Russian rights group OVD information, at least eight cases were brought against schoolchildren for anti-war attitudes. Or in other words, not to keep pace with the patriotic upbringing of their country.




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