A touch of Red Army hardship to train cadres
Some of the legacy of Mao Zedong and his Red Army is being added to the Communist Party's training curriculum to cultivate party allegiance among younger party and government officials who will become the cornerstone of future leadership.
The Communist Party's Organisation Department of the Central Committee began to train officials holding the rank of ministry department head and municipal bureau director from July, and it plans to provide that training for all of the more than 40,000 officials at that level by June 30, 2012.
The massive training programme comes as the party's grip on power has been perceived to be faltering amid rampant corruption. The China Executive Leadership Academy of Jinggangshan, a party-affiliated school in the city of Jinggangshan, Jiangxi, has held four training sessions on party allegiance for several hundred young party and government officials since July.
On top of the usual subjects such as party history studies, the cadres donned Red Army outfits and were led to the site of a treacherous mountain trek that Mao Zedong led to carry food supplies with shoulder poles to Mount Jinggang, the cradle of the Communist Party revolution.
Quoting an unidentified official from the Organisation Department, The Beijing News said most to today's medium-ranking officials were born in the 1960s and early 1970s and are much better educated, but they have little first-hand knowledge of hardship and life in the party.
The official said the training programme would help strengthen their allegiance to party principles and their political alignment.
Xu Weixin , training department director of the Central Party School, said officials at such ranks were often the ones put in charge of an entire municipal jurisdiction or a department of a central government agency with the crucial role of policymaking.
As such, Xu said they could be role models in terms of party allegiance, so the mass training programme is of great significance.
'The focus on first-hand experience in the training programmes would serve the purpose of helping them return to the spiritual dwelling of the communists,' he said.
Beijing Institute of Technology Professor Hu Xingdou said officials as a whole are having image problems because of corruption and a decline in morality.
'But any training for them has to be done in accordance with the principles of modern civilisation, instead of teaching them the obsolete doctrine of Mao's era that has proved not to work ,' Hu said. 'So, such training programmes should not be abused by some vested interests as their cash cow or a pure publicity stunt.'
Hu said that most of the officials were open-minded and better informed.
But what they need to be taught, Hu said, are the principles of civil society, the rule of law and public morality for better governance.
Young cadres need to be trained to know what hardship is like
Training is to be given to all officials of department-head level, totalling: 40,000