Across the Muslim world, believers, including children, are taught to follow what Prophet Muhammad, and those close to him, did back in the seventh century. The Hadiths (Traditions) detail how the ideal Muslims’ daily life and beliefs should be like.
Something similar is being attempted in China, where President-for-Life Xi Jinping has emerged almost as a home-grown prophet in a country that has long boasted of atheism.
China has for long been trying to eradicate alien global religions like Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. In Tibet, it tried to erase Buddhism; in Xinjiang and elsewhere, it has been taking tough measures against Islam and Muslims; elsewhere, particularly in Hong Kong, Beijing has made life difficult for Christians.
Quoting Karl Marx, Being called all these religions ‘opiate’ of the masses.
But now China is trying to establish its own “religion”, with Xi Jinping as the First Prophet.
Media reports this week indicated that Chinese schoolchildren are being prompted to study Xi Jinping’s “teachings” ahead of the ruling Communist Party’s centennial celebration in July 2021.
On Wednesday, the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC)’s Central Committee issued new guidelines to accelerate ideological education among the Chinese Young Pioneers, a national youth organization affiliated to the party.
According to these guidelines, all children in primary school and the first two years of secondary school should have at least one weekly class to carry out Young Pioneers activities, and the core training materials for the teaching staff should be what it claims to be “Xi Thought”.
Members of the Young Pioneers should be taught to “firmly bear in mind” the teachings of Xi, and “do what Xi has instructed,” the guidelines said.
In China, everyone from diplomats to executives to even science fiction writers are under pressure to incorporate the broad, often fuzzy tenets of “Xi Thought” into their policies, part of an effort to elevate it alongside Maoism and help consolidate the President’s effort to further cement control, media said.
The guidelines directed that the children be taught that “today’s happy life comes ultimately from the correct leadership of the Party” as well as “from the superiority of our socialist system.”
Strengthening “political enlightenment and forming of values” among children is of strategic importance to make sure the “red genes are passed down from generations to generations,” party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, said Thursday, citing the guidelines.
Another state-backed newspaper, the China Daily, cited the guidelines in an article, “Cultivation of Children Seen as Strategic,”, stating that kids are the country’s and the party’s future. The CPC had always made cultivating the country’s in a good manner a “strategic” and “fundamental” task.
The CPC’s guidelines came after Xi’s visit to a village in the south-western Guizhou province which, the state media claimed, had successfully eradicated poverty. Posing for photos with local people from the Miao ethnic minority, Xi greeted the Chinese ahead of the Lunar New Year, which this year falls on February 11. This is significant because, in 2020, millions of Chinese were banned from celebrating the New Year amid the outbreak of “Chinese virus”, COVID-19, at Wuhan.
The Chinese Young Pioneers was founded in 1949 and includes almost all children in China between the ages of six and 14. It has played an “irreplaceable role” in guiding generations of children to follow the instructions of the party, the guidelines claimed.
The guidelines also called for the promotion of exchanges between Young Pioneers in the mainland and children’s’ organizations in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, so as to enhance the “national, ethnic and cultural identity of youth in these areas.”
Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), had also become a cult figure in the 1940s-1970s. His “policies” killed millions of Chinese in different disasters, including the “Great Leap Forward” and the “Cultural Revolution.” His “Little Red Book” had become a Bible for Communists across the world.
The Xi Thought is an attempt to put it on the same pedestal as the Red Book. So much so that Xi Thought and his “philosophy” are invading even science fiction and weather and earthquake predictions.
The “Xi Thought” is being compiled in one place, although the three-volume “Xi Jinping: The Governance of China”, a collection of his speeches, writings, sayings and ideas, is already out. More than 20 applications of Xi Thought on everything from economic management and military reform to controlling the media and the arts that have appeared in state media since 2018.
While ‘Mao Zedong Thought’ stressed toward adapting Marxist-Leninism to a pre-industrial society, Xi Thought is all about maintaining the CPC’s strong control at a time when China is being pilloried as an international villain, and facing the Hong Kong heat spreading all over the country.
Bottom of Form
Barring Mao, no other Chinese leader has had his ideology raised to the level of “thought,” which carries a special meaning in the CPC propaganda. Ultimately, Xi Thought can be whatever Xi thinks he needs to ensure his own rule.
“It seems quite obvious from all signals, that he wants to serve beyond 10 years, perhaps for 20 years,” said Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Centre for China Studies, who has authored numerous books on Chinese politics. “To remain in power for that long, he needs to consolidate his power base.”