China Tightens Campus Controls
HEFEI, CHINA — CHINA'S hard-line leaders are intensifying Marxist indoctrination for university students in an effort to prevent unrest following the overthrow of communism in the Soviet Union.On the first day of the academic year, the Communist Party mouthpiece, People's Daily, published a strident call for vigilance against renewed protests for democracy. The Sept. 1 article, which echoed the views of Party conservatives, warned that some leaders of the spring 1989 student demonstrations are "biding their time and looking for opportunities for the kill." "We must watch their actions at all times," it said. Party authorities at universities in Beijing also pledged recently to strengthen ideological study on campus as a way to "unify" students' thinking, according to Hong Kong press reports. And the State Education Commission issued a set of "moral standards" on Aug. 26 demanding that teachers at China's primary and middle schools "staunchly uphold the socialist direction," the People's Daily reported. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Chinese university students are donning olive Army uniforms for the mandatory military training and Marxist indoctrination imposed at roughly 70 higher learning institutions since the June 4, 1989 crackdown. The training will last a full academic year for freshmen at some schools, including Shanghai's Fudan University and Beijing University, whose students helped lead the spring 1989 democracy movement. Beijing is setting up a second permanent military facility for training growing numbers of students from the capital, according to the China Education News. At the University of Science and Technology in Hefei, in Anhui Province, hundreds of freshmen are enlisting for several weeks of marching, drills, and exams in communism. But students at the university, once a hub of democratic activism under liberal academics such as astrophysicist Fang Lizhi, seem little changed by the martial regime. "The ideological study is endless talk. It's very dull," said one chemistry upperclassman put through the paces at an Army tank college in the provincial city of Bengbu. Many students say military drills and Marxism classes concern them far less than the Party's increased restrictions on study abroad since 1989. At the University of Science and Technology, for example, students are barred from taking aptitude tests such as the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) unless they have a letter from their department testifying that they have no "political problems." The school demands that students pay extremely heavy fees, ranging from about $500 to $800, for each year of university completed before they go abroad. After their junior year, regulations forbid students from obtaining a passport unless they have relatives abroad willing to sponsor them financially. And after graduation, all students are required to work for five years before being eligible to apply for further study overseas. "The government says we can freely go abroad, but it's not true," says a physics student at Hefei. Leaving China for foreign universities has been a chief preoccupation of students since the democracy movement was crushed, he says. This year Beijing ended an experiment allowing university graduates to find their own work and reimposed a system of state-assigned jobs.