In early September, an online survey conducted by NetEase incited a wave of political uproar with the finding that 64 percent of Chinese people “do not want to be Chinese in their next life.” As a result of this survey, NetEase Chief Director Tang Yan and Chief Commentator Liu Xianghui were dismissed from their jobs. Several world-renowned news organizations were puzzled by the reaction of the Chinese authorities. It is well known that Chinese authorities cannot tolerate disparities in political views, yet this topic is apolitical. One cannot help but wonder where the Chinese government draws the line concerning repression of speech?
These news organizations naturally do not understand the significance of such a topic in China. The Chinese regime's current existence relies on controlling the Chinese people solely through infusing them with pro-nationalism sentiment. How does the Chinese authority utilize patriotism, which has persisted and evolved over thousands of years, to bring people together, thus solidifying its political stance? This involves historic factors and targeted, precise manipulation.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) gained political power by tactfully using the Chinese people's nationalist sentiments during the war against Japan over half a century ago. The CCP has since exploited educational institutions and the media to modify the contents of “patriotism” according to its own political agenda. Pro-nationalism education was emphasized less in the mid 1980s but regained popularity in the 1990s.
After the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, the CCP concluded that the problem was to be found within the educational system. It was determined that decreased amounts of pro-patriotism education, which is in fact pro-communism education, in school curriculums provided a channel for democratic ideology to spread among intellectuals and college students. This resulted in political instability in the late 1980s, so the government restored pro-nationalism education. In April 1991, the Committee for the General Office of State Education issued a paper entitled, “Some Suggestions for Further Improvement on Pro-Nationalism Education in Middle Schools and Primary Schools.” Then in August 1994, the CCP Central Committee published “Annals For Implementation Of Pro-Nationalism Education” which clearly states that the goal of such education is to, “Arouse nationalism, bring more people together, strengthen national respect and pride, establish and develop the most extensive pro-patriotism support network, and direct the people's patriotism to the establishment of a great enterprise, a Chinese-styled socialism.” The publication of the “Annals…” resulted in the development of various teaching methods to promote patriotism. These included founding a patriotism education headquarters, building a social momentum for pro-patriotism education, instilling and advocating reverence and rules of etiquette for the flag, national anthem and emblem, enthusiastically propagandizing acts of patriotism, etc.
The terms patriotism and nationalism can be used interchangeably. The three main points of nationalism are, “economic development, political stability, and national unification.” National unification implies opposing Taiwan independence. The CCP declares itself representative of China, the Chinese people, and even the Chinese culture. It thus utilizes the so-called “pro-patriotism education” in schools to effectively spread its political propaganda among students. The students are taught to love socialism and, above all, love the founder of socialism in China—the CCP.
Furthermore, patriotism and collectivism are linked together. The middle school political studies textbook states: “Patriotism is advocated by the state and it is written in the law. The Constitution of the Peoples' Republic of China (The Constitution) maintains: 'The state advocates the civic virtues of love for the motherland, for the people, for labor, for science and for socialism; it educates the people in patriotism, collectivism, internationalism and communism and in dialectical and historical materialism.' The Constitution also specifies various responsibilities of the citizens for the state, including the responsibility of loving the country. Therefore patriotism is not only a way of thinking, but also a legal responsibility of each citizen.”
How is “collectivism and patriotism” related to love for the communist party? Those who are familiar with the communist ideology understand that collectivism places emphasis on obedience of the individual to the collective. The highest level of the collective is the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee and its regime. As such, individuals are to obey the CCP unconditionally. According to the explanation given by the CCP regarding itself, it is the highest, natural representative of China, the Chinese people, the Chinese nation, and even Chinese culture. Therefore, to love China is to love the CCP.
We have to state that China does not allow the formation of associations. Any organizations, “units,” or “groups of people” are under the control of the government and its political organizations, with the CCP branch office as the highest leader. Therefore, individuals' obedience to the collective is obedience to the CCP. The results of this survey conducted by NetEase lets the Chinese authorities realize in no uncertain terms a fact that they most certainly do not like: The Chinese people's opinion of the CCP is not a positive one. The CCP's last tool, patriotism, has lost its power. The Chinese people have voiced their dissatisfaction with the current situation by saying that “they do not want to be Chinese in their next life.” Special attention should be paid to the bottom line of this survey, which is that the Chinese people have rediscovered the proper dignity of a human being.