China’s elite academy grooms future leaders with lectures on Xi's principles
Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and delegates stand for the National anthem during the 6th plenary session of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 18 March 2018. EPA-EFE FILE/HOW HWEE YOUNG
Chinese President and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping raises hand to take a vote during the closing ceremony of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the Great Hall of the People (GHOP) in Beijing, China, 24 October 2017. According to media reports on 24 October 2017, the National Congress of the Communist Party of China voted to enshrine the signature ideology of President Xi Jinping into the Chinese Communist Party constitution, elevating him to the country's most influential and powerful leader in decades. EPA-EFE FILE/WU HONG
Students attend a class at a Central Party School of the Communist Party in Beijing, China. EFE/JAVIER CASTRO BUGARÍN
By Javier Garcia
Beijing, Jul 10 (efe-epa).- A group of students aged between 40 and 55 in a classroom of an elite school in Beijing listens with rapt attention as their teacher explains to them the importance of following the guiding principles of China’s all-powerful leader Xi Jinping in every sphere of life.
This is inside a Central Party School to groom future Communist Party leaders by explaining to them the intricacies of Xi’s philosophy and its gravity even while installing dry toilets in the arid northern part of China.
The students at the school founded 86 years ago belong to a wide range of professions including educationists, doctors and graduates.
The origins of what is now a majestic academy, spread around hundreds of acres of land next to Beijing's Summer Palace, go back to 1933, when it was set up inside a cave in southeastern Jiangxi province by the communist rebels during their war against the Kuomintang nationalists.
Today, the school boasts of a swimming pool, a tennis court, lakes and large gardens dotted by statues of late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong with stone-carvings explaining his philosophy or that of Deng Xiaoping, the leader who initiated reforms that opened China to the market economy.
Most of the party's big names have passed through the classrooms of this institution, from Mao - who headed it between 1942 and 1947 - to presidents including Liu Shaoqi, Hu Jintao, and Xi (2007-2013).
In 2018, with Xi in charge of China's destiny, the school was merged with the Chinese Academy of Governance to incorporate a new goal: to research and spread the president's philosophy on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, according to the documents from the center.
In fact in classes, students are given lessons on diversely varied topics – from dry vacuum toilets to self-driving bikes. But Xi's guiding philosophy runs constantly in between the lectures as it has become a part of the school’s curriculum.
The teacher discusses ideas on several subjects and illustrates them with phrases from the country's leader before the attentive gaze of the students.
According to the school's current president Chen Xi, who is also a member of the all-powerful politburo of the CPC, the institution is a center for higher philosophical and ideological learning.
Wang Gan, deputy director of educational planning, said the academy was focused on “disseminating theories of Marxism-Leninism" and helping the Chinese people implement the central committee's decisions.
"We learn from dialectical thinking and try to apply knowledge to practice, as advocated by Mao," said Yan Xi, one of the select trainers, who is also a teacher at Beijing's Tsinghua University.
Among the problems the world’s most populous country faced and that concerned the students the most was reducing the income gap in China – a problem that Marx or Lenin would not have imagined as they conceived an ideal communist society.
Although hundreds of millions of Chinese have been moved out of poverty in recent decades, several parts of the country are witness to stark income inequality as large amounts of wealth – thanks to the dynamics of a market economy – coexist with incredibly low wages and precarious living conditions.
The school's management denies that technological advancement and dizzying changes in Chinese society in recent years may be driving young people away from the Communist Party.
No topic is out of bounds during the classes, although the debates on thorny issues such as the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 or the Cultural Revolution of 1966 – Mao's process of eliminating dissent – is prohibited.
"We forbid debates on issues that go against decisions or guidelines of the party, although we study them to learn from them and push history forward,” said Wang.
The school is the apex of a system made up of more than 2,500 centers spread across all the provinces in the country, where even some of the state firms have their own academies.
Although a vast majority of students are members of the CPC, party affiliation is not an indispensable condition for entering these centers. However, in practice very few non-members are able to access this institution.
The school next to Beijing's Summer Palace currently imparts training to some 1,500 possible future leaders.
Many of the students live in the school premises in austere, but comfortable rooms, where the complete works of Xi and manuals on Marxism-Leninism share space with theological treatises on the book shelves. EFE-EPA