February 28, 2017 / 4:11 AM / 2 years ago

Xi's 'core' Party position cemented in China's ideological education

China's President Xi Jinping attends a welcoming ceremony for Italian President Sergio Mattarella (not in picture) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) - China cemented President Xi Jinping’s position as the “core” of the Communist Party on Monday, making it part of ideological teaching in colleges and universities as Beijing tightens its hold on education.

Political thought and party leadership in China’s places of higher learning should “closely revolve around the Chinese Communist Party with comrade Xi Jinping at the core”, the State Council, China’s Cabinet, said in a document released online.

Xi was anointed “core” of the ruling Communist Party last October, placing him among strong men like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

He has placed allegiance to the party and correct ideology back at the heart of China’s educational institutions, calling for colleges and universities to “serve the Communist Party” in a speech last December.

The government has campaigned against the spread of “Western values” at universities, and inspectors have previously been sent to monitor teachers for “improper” remarks in class.

A system of sending young teachers for assignment in government positions should also be set up to improve the quality of their political thought, the State Council document said.

In a separate announcement, the party’s discipline and anti-graft agency said last week it would carry out “flexible” inspections of 29 of China’s top universities, in part to help strengthen ideological education.

Once hotbeds of activism that produced the leaders of the 1989 pro-democracy protests, universities and their courses are tightly controlled in China, and students and teachers can face expulsion when deemed too critical.

In 2013, a liberal Chinese economist who had been an outspoken critic of the party was expelled from the elite Peking University.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Paul Tait

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