A commentary in a Communist Party mouthpiece newspaper on Tuesday criticised some teachers in China for lacking faith in socialism and embracing negative political views.
The article, published in the Guangming Daily, a newspaper run by the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda department, said: “Modern teachers in China tend to uphold a variety of ideals and faiths, overly valuing personal gain and holding a weak belief in Communism.”
Titled Teachers ought to lead the way in practicing socialist core values, the comment piece called on all teachers to continue to keep closely in line with the Party’s principles and strive to attain the Party’s socialist ideals.
The article also urged teachers to set moral standards for society. It lavished praise on teacher Zhang Lili, who lost both legs after she saved her students from being run over by a coach, only to be hit by the vehicle herself. The Chinese government has since portrayed her as a noble example for society for her sacrifice, selecting her as one of the national moral models.
The commentary came a month after the Chinese government issued a letter by President Xi Jinping on annual teachers’ day in which he appealed to all teachers to consolidate their socialist beliefs.
However, the Chinese government still has a tight grip over what the 14 million teachers across the country teach their students. A number of outspoken professors have reported being under constant harassment and threats from the nation’s state security agents and sometimes even their schools.
For example, economics professor Xia Yeliang of the prestigious Peking University, who has befriended the imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, told the South China Morning Post in July that he faced a expulsion vote from the university because of all the things he had “said and written”.
Shen Zhihua, professor at East China Normal University in Shanghai and one of the best-known cold war experts in China, said in a speech earlier this year that he was frequently warned by the Ministry of Education not to criticise the North Korean government.
Other liberals such as renowned law professor He Weifang have said in the past that their speeches are often cancelled at the last minute due to their sensitive topics.