A Chinese publishing house said Wednesday that it has not deleted the Cultural Revolution chapter from the latest edition of its history textbook, following online accusations that it had done exactly that.
The People’s Education Press (PEP) clarified in a statement that all content related to the Cultural Revolution will be published in a second volume, in accordance with a new curriculum. The new textbook, which the PEP said delves deeper into the tumultuous historical period, will be used in eighth-grade classrooms beginning in March.
“Chapter 6 [of the second volume] comprehensively and systematically describes the occurrence of the Cultural Revolution — its background, its history, and its harmful effects,” said the PEP, which operates under the Ministry of Education.
Earlier this week, netizens began discussing the topic on microblog platform Weibo after a user posted photos of new and old editions of the same book, and accused the PEP of omitting content about the Cultural Revolution. Since then, many netizens have echoed the importance of including such historical events in school curricula so that future generations might learn from them.
“Honestly, I know nothing about the Cultural Revolution,” one user commented in a now-deleted post. “It has always been vague to me, but I think we should face our history, regardless of whether it’s good or bad.”
“If a country doesn’t dare to not confront its past, it can’t expect to have a bright future,” another netizen wrote in the thread.
Beginning in 1966, China’s decadelong Cultural Revolution was marked by social and political upheaval. The country’s education system, in particular, suffered from a sweeping wave of anti-intellectualism. A May 2016 commentary in Party newspaper People’s Daily argued that the revolution “was totally wrong in its theory and practice.”
In recent years, China’s public schools have taken a proactive approach to instilling “Core Socialist Values” in the nation’s children.
Beginning in August 2018, educational institutions in the eastern province of Jiangxi will introduce “red culture” textbooks espousing Party ideology. In September 2017, the Ministry of Education announced plans for new liberal arts textbooks for primary and middle school students across the country that would focus on traditional culture, revolutionary history, and ideology. Also last year, the ministry ordered schools to add an extra six years to the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, which ended in 1945.
The ambitious reforms are part of a broader push to “strengthen ideological work” at educational institutions. In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that students should be educated in a way that helps them “develop firm beliefs and confidence in lofty communist ideals and socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
Contributions: Qian Zhecheng; editor: David Paulk.
(Header image: Students read from history textbooks at a secondary school in Handan, Hebei province, Sept. 1, 2017. Hao Qunying/IC)