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China: Fighting Deadly Viruses with Marxism and Maoism

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Bai Lin | Bitter Winter

The coronavirus epidemic is not over, but China’s propaganda hails President Xi Jiping, socialism with Chinese characteristics, and “revolutionary spirit” for beating it.

Most of China’s schools have been closed due to the spread of the coronavirus, and classes are primarily taught virtually. For schoolchildren in the southeastern province of Jiangxi, learning now takes place on the online platform jxeduyun.com. One of the lessons listed in the curricula for all grades, except for the ninth and twelfth, is the “Red culture education.”

“During these classes, our teacher explained how Chairman Mao and other revolutionaries depended on the firmness of their revolutionary spirit to overcome various difficulties and dangers during the Autumn Harvest Uprising,” a student at the school explained, referring to the Mao Zedong-led insurrection in Hunan and Jiangxi provinces on September 7, 1927, that resulted in the establishment of the Hunan Soviet that survived for two months. When the uprising was crushed, Mao Zedong led the army to Jinggangshan, a county-level city in Jiangxi, considered “the cradle of the Chinese revolution,” to regroup. Since then, the “Jinggangshan spirit” has been used to describe the revolutionary willpower to overcome difficulties. “Now we should also inherit the ‘Jinggangshan spirit’ to defeat the coronavirus,” the boy said, adding that after the class, some of his classmates started expressing their admiration for the Chinese Communist Party CCP leaders.

Some parents don’t agree with such teaching content. “The CCP’s red propaganda is reminiscent of the deification of Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution,” one of the parents complained to Bitter Winter. “Why didn’t Xi Jinping come to Wuhan when the virus was most severe to use the Jinggangshan spirit to defeat it? It’s shameless and ridiculous!”

During the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong Thought, or Maoism, was promoted as “a spiritual atom bomb of infinite power,” which could practically resolve any difficulty. All of a sudden, “extraordinary” results were achieved if guided by Maoism at work, slaughtering pigs, or treating diseases.

On October 24, 1969, the official CCP’s newspaper, People’s Daily, published an article “Using Mao Zedong Thought to Open a ‘Forbidden Zone’—Curing Deaf-Mutes,” which described how Maoism was used to create a new method to cure the people who cannot hear or speak.

On August 10, 1971, the same daily published a newsletter titled “Using Mao Zedong Thought to Treat Mental Problems.”

Amid the spread of the coronavirus, two women who work at the School of Marxism at the Tourism College of Changchun University in the northeastern province of Jilin, published an article in an academic journal, entitled “Marxist Belief: An Internal Force to Defeat the Novel Coronavirus Epidemic.” One of the authors, Liu Guojing, is a teaching assistant, and the other, Professor Liu Yawen, is the dean of the college, both members of the CCP. “Marxism is a force that supports the absolute victory in battling against the COVID-19,” the article claims, “and it is an important embodiment that shows the superiority of the socialism with Chinese characteristics.” The article has caused criticism and mockery among China’s netizens.

In February, the Social Sciences Department of the Ministry of Education issued the Work Procedures for Organizing Universities to Teach the Course of Ideological and Political Theory Amid the Prevention and Control of the Novel Coronavirus. Following the guidelines, universities across China are actively preparing to implement the order, requiring teachers to “start the 2020 spring semester with a first good course of ideological and political theory” and “ensure the achievement of desired results.”

The Online Education Cloud Service Platform, used by primary and secondary schools in Nanjing, the capital of the eastern province of Jiangsu, has created special sections, called “Tongxinzhan‘Yi” (’童心戰‘疫,’ roughly translated as “kids’ hearts fighting the epidemic”) and “Fighting against the epidemic to the end” to enforce the patriotic education with “red stories and films.”

The government of Anping county in the northern province of Hebei ordered all students in the jurisdiction to watch online how Party branch officials analyze the country’s revolutionary history to trigger “the confidence to defeat the epidemic.”

The CCP has been using its propaganda machine to conceal the missteps in combating the epidemic to shift responsibility, suppress criticism, and praise the leadership. Critics believe that the epidemic crisis has raised an unprecedented political threat to Xi Jinping, and propaganda has once again become his life-saving straw. Even though the epidemic is far from being over, the CCP’s Publicity Department already published “A Battle Against Epidemic: China Combating COVID-19 in 2020,” a book praising Xi Jinping. Awaited to become a bestseller among the Chinese, the just-released creation has suddenly disappeared from the catalogs of the People’s Publishing House, probably, so that the president’s propagandists could make some changes after an offensive of criticism after the book started being publicized.

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