3 Top Chinese Universities Withdraw From International Rankings, Shortly After Xi Jinping Asked Them to ‘Follow the CCP’

By Julia Ye
Julia Ye
Julia Ye
Julia Ye is an Australian-based reporter who joined The Epoch Times in 2021. She mainly covers China-related issues and has been a reporter since 2003.
May 16, 2022 Updated: May 16, 2022

During an April 25 visit to one of China’s most prestigious universities, Renmin University in Beijing, Chinese leader Xi Jinping stressed that to build a world-class university with the Chinese characteristics, “you cannot follow in others’ footsteps.” Shortly after, on May 6, Renmin University announced that it will no longer provide data to the relevant international institutions to participate in world university rankings.

Prior to that, China’s Nanjing University and Lanzhou University, also considered top-notch universities in China, also announced their withdrawal from the international university rankings system. Analysts believe that these are obvious signs of China’s further decoupling from the West under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Despite its reputation as a top humanities and social sciences university in China, Renmin University is far behind even its Chinese peers in international rankings. According to the UK-based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) annual World University Rankings, Renmin University in 2022 is ranked 601 globally, Nanjing University ranked 131, and Lanzhou University ranked 751. All three institutions are dubbed as “Double First-Class Universities” by the CCP.

The “Double First-Class University” plan, initiated by the CCP in 2015, aims to comprehensively develop elite Chinese universities—representing the top 5th percentile in mainland China—into world-class institutions by the end of 2050 through developing and strengthening their individual academic departments.

Xia, a former economics professor at Peking University, told Radio Free Asia that the announcements by the three universities bespeak Xi’s idea to further ​​decouple from the West.

According to Xia, Xi emphasized that Chinese universities should “inherit the red gene” and “follow the party” in his speech at Renmin University.

“That is to say, no matter how good the talents cultivated by a university are, if they do not serve the CCP and help the CCP achieve its goals, such talents are meaningless,” Xia said.

Epoch Times Photo
Graduating university students crowd a job fair in Nanjing of Jiangsu Province, China, on Nov. 20, 2008. (China Photos/Getty Images)

Frank Xie, ​​a professor at the University of South Carolina’s Aiken School of Business, told The Epoch Times’ sister media NTD that he sees the CCP’s plan as part of its bigger goal of “secluding China from the rest of the world.”

Xie believes that the withdrawal announcements are entirely at the behest of the CCP authorities, because these institutions in China do not have such autonomy themselves. He predicts that many more universities in China will withdraw from the international rankings and, in the end, there may only be a few top Chinese universities left in the global ranking system.

Current affairs commentator Qin Peng also told NTD that Renmin University is unique in that it was the first formal university founded by the CCP.

“It is a CCP party school dedicated for young people. Marxism-Leninism is one of the major courses taught at Renmin University,” Qin said.

Renmin University means “the people’s university.” Its origins date back to Shanbei Public School, which was established in 1937 by the CCP in order to “bring up hundreds of thousands of revolutionary comrades.”

After the CCP seized power, several institutions were merged to form the Renmin University of China in 1950.

Julia Ye
Julia Ye is an Australian-based reporter who joined The Epoch Times in 2021. She mainly covers China-related issues and has been a reporter since 2003.