Gaokao, Chinese university in illiberal Orban-Hungary and academic freedom- More Western state funds for education instead of private or communist sponsors

Gaokao, Chinese university in illiberal Orban-Hungary and academic freedom- More Western state funds for education instead of private or communist sponsors

Every year for Chinese pupil there is the central examination, the Gaokao. The difference is that it is a huge central high school diploma and that much more depends on it than in Germany. It’s about who goes to which university (and whether at all), and since the universities are clearly ranked, life chances also depend on it. In Germany, only a very small proportion of students come up with the idea of choosing a university based on its quality. The proximity to home is much more important. Pisa has of course changed a lot in grammar schools and schools in general. Above all, the fact that only a few subjects were suddenly considered to be very important has massively strengthened the streamlining. Foreign language skills in addition to English, which have always been a strength of German grammar schools, have clearly been devalued because they cannot be compared internationally.

The Gaokao essays are now also dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the CCP and patriotism and the partcipants shall discuss a slogan of Mao Tsedong to fit to the national rejunevation of China as they will be the main decisionmakers in 2049 of the hoped-for world power China. . There is also a TV series Awakening Age. Is Gaokao also in Hong Kong at the same time? How do the essays look like? How many Hong Kong people actually study in China and vice versa? Mainland Chinese studying in Hong Kong are very numerous, almost 20,000 before 2019 (they were then attacked). There are probably around 100,000 students in the current year. Many of them are at the eight major Hong Kong universities. There are several community colleges. Two years ago I was in Zhuhai at the United International College of Hong Kong Baptist University and Beijing Shifan daxue. It was actually founded specifically for Hong Kong residents, with ideal study conditions. Perhaps a little lonely, but definitely an alternative for Hong Kong residents.Whether Hongkong pupils are already subject to Mainland Gaoke criteria, Chinese nationalism and the national security law has not yet been reported in Western media, but is likely. However, let´s listen what the CPC´s mouthpiece Global Times tells us about the criteria and contents of the 2021 Gaoke:

“Patriotism, youth ideals and CPC roots resonated in gaokao essay

Young generation of talent to carry forward pioneering spirit in science, technology


Yang Sheng

, Zhang Han and Cui Fandi Published: Jun 08, 2021 01:05 AM

 A total of 10.78 million Chinese students across the country have stepped into examination rooms on Monday to take their final step toward college. Gaokao, the country’s largest scale nationwide annual exams have always attracted much attention from wider society, especially the essay questions for the Chinese course. 

Heated discussions on essay topics have become a unique phenomenon each year on day one of Gaokao, because it is not only about the crucial test, but also a reflection of mainstream public values, observers said.

In 2021, China’s Ministry of Education has issued four versions of exam papers nationwide, and Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Zhejiang Province issued their own exam papers. This year, many of the essay questions in the Chinese course are closely related to patriotism, the ideals of youth, and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which asked students to write an essay linking their dreams to that of their elders from decades or even a century ago.

Gaokao is like ‚the coming-of-age exam‘ for people like us, and questions about young people’s ideals regarding their homelands and the motherland, as well as their responsibility and duty of the times, are an integral part of the exam,“ an examinee surnamed Tian from Chaozhou, South China’s Guangdong Province, told the Global Times on Monday.

Many web users joked that „the examinees who have watched the 2021 TV series Awakening Age might laugh out loud.“ The Chinese TV series Awakening Age, narrates the story of how the CPC was founded in 1921 and why the founding fathers of the CPC had to establish such a Party in China. The series has remained a hot topic on social media, where discussion emphasizes that it has played a positive role in educating young people about China’s revolutionary history. Many young people said online after watching the series that „I’m going to submit a Party membership application.“

„I had a lot to say when I was writing my essay this morning, because we are at a crucial historical juncture. China has effectively controlled the pandemic in general and the country has eliminated poverty nationwide. The Party is also going to celebrate its 100th birthday, so it’s easy for me to pick examples from reality and put them into my essay to make comparisons with the challenges that our ancestors were facing in the past,“ said an examinee from Nanning surnamed Wei, south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Gaokao is not only an exam for selecting talent, but also a test of people’s outlook on life, and patriotism is an important part of this.“ Tian said, „I am happy that I’ll be able to write my heart out in this exam.“

„Students today face a totally different age compared to the youth 100 years ago, but their dreams are connected and inherited. In recent years, China has displayed its unique systematic advantages in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, and from the comparisons with the poor performances of Western countries and a series of stigmatizations against China launched by the West, Chinese people, especially the youth, are increasingly patriotic and confident,“ said Wu Liang, a Chinese teacher at a high school in Shanghai.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the West may still have the chance to alter the mindsets of some young Chinese people to look down on traditional Chinese culture and Chinese political system, becoming more Westernized and accepting their supremacy as well as US hegemony, but now, this illusion has collapsed, said analysts.

Adding the recent offensives against China launched by the West like the trade war, and China’s firm determination and bottom line on safeguarding sovereignty on issues such as Xinjiang and Hong Kong, patriotism and recognition of the CPC’s efforts in defending China’s interests are becoming common sense, said experts, noting that this is why the TV series like Awakening Age can go viral and this year’s gaokao will raise those kinds of essay questions.
Interesting questions

The questions are not just about slogans or bland political ideas, but are related to interesting topics that warrant discussion. For instance, one of the essay questions refers to an article written by Chairman Mao Zedong when he was 24 years old in 1917 in the magazine the New Youth. The article was mentioned in the TV series Awakening Age

Mao’s article was about „the research of sports“ which stated a theory that „if the strong overuse their strength, they would eventually become the weak; and if the weak make the effort in training to improve their weaknesses, the weak could also become the strong.“ The question asks the examinee to write an essay based on Mao’s opinion.

Some observers and high-school teachers said this is a very open and informative question, and if the examinees are familiar with the current international situation, then they might automatically come out with ideas about the competition between China and the US, and the US is just like „the strong who overuse their strength“ while China is the one who has successfully improved its many weaknesses and transformed from the weak to the strong.

Focusing on science, technology

Chinese students have the chances to use their knowledge to make better lives for themselves. For instance, studying subjects about sciences and technologies that the US is seeking to suppress China would be a good choice. 

China launched a new education plan in 2020 to encourage elite students to study „basic“ subjects to improve the country’s science and technology capabilities.

According to the Strong Base Plan released by the Ministry of Education last year, 36 leading Chinese universities – including Peking, Tsinghua and Fudan – will select outstanding high-school graduates who are „willing to serve the country’s significant strategic demands“, including high-end chip production, AI, new material industries, and other subjects related to national security, as well as some humanities and social science fields that suffer from shortages of talent.

Many of these subjects – such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology – are unpopular with students who prefer majors such as computing and finance that will improve their earning capacities after graduation.

This plan is mainly designed to solve the current shortages of scientific researchers in basic disciplines in China, Xiong Bingqi, director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday.

„At present, in some of the world’s leading high-tech fields, such as chips and artificial intelligence, China’s development faces technology blockade launched by the West. The lack of mastering core technology is hindering China’s faster development,“ Xiong said, „Vigorously training talent in basic disciplines, especially basic sciences such as mathematics, physics and chemistry, will help cultivate new forces in the high-tech field and solve these problems fundamentally.“

From now to 2050, the examinees today will become the key forces for China to realize national rejuvenation in all aspects, and to overcome all kinds of challenges. Fortunately, we have seen enough young people who have ambitions to be contributors. Broader society and the government need to give them enough support, said experts.

While the CPC puts its ideology by menas of the Gaoke in the brains of its academic youth , it also wants to build similar institutions in the West.The plan for a Chinese university in Hungary is worth an article for Global Time. One can be very skeptical about the project. After China, with its New Silk Road, military visits and economic relations, forms strategic backyards through the 17 plus 1 group, it now also wants to establish a strategic base in the academic field nd as future role model in illiberal Orban- Hungary. While Orban forbids a Soros university, he wants to grant neototalitarian China its own university in Hungary as a beacon project for Europe.

“China-Hungary ties intact despite Budapest school branch on hold amid opposition’s attempt to stigmatize exchanges


Xu Keyue

Published: Jun 07, 2021 10:45 PM

After the march in Budapest against Hungary’s plan to build a Chinese university branch – a move incited by the country’s opposition party to stigmatize the cultural exchanges for political gain – the Hungarian prime minister appeared to suspend the plan and offered to hold a referendum on the project in 2023, which reflects the hurdles ahead in ties between China and Hungary marred by few opposition politicians‘ ulterior motives to hijack China-Hungary and China-EU ties. 

The reported suspension is perhaps a flexible move by the Viktor Orban government in response to the latest protest over the weekend and won’t fundamentally damage China-Hungary friendship despite some Hungarian opposition politicians who incited the protest by hyping so-called „Chinese human rights abuses“ to pave the way for competition against the incumbent Hungarian Prime Minister. 

The project to set up a branch of China’s Fudan University in Budapest was agreed in December 2019, the largest investment in Hungary’s education sector in recent decades.

However, under pressure from opponents of the project, Orban appeared to backtrack on the plan and is offering to hold a referendum in 2023 instead, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

The suspension came after thousands rallied in Budapest on Saturday against the plan, after Budapest’s Mayor Gergely Karacsony, who is the leader of a small opposition party in Hungary, announced to rename roads around the university branch. 

The new street signs will include „Free Hong Kong Road,“ „Dalai Lama Street,“ and „Uygur Martyrs‘ Road,“ according to a BBC report on Wednesday. 

Karacsony launched his bid to become prime minister, so he needs to make waves by attacking the incumbent government’s China policy. Misleading voters and creating confrontation over the Fudan University project has become his gimmick, observers pointed out.

Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, at a press conference on Monday urged politicians in Hungary to maintain an objective, rational and scientific attitude, avoid politicizing and stigmatizing the normal cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and Hungary, and safeguard the bilateral friendly cooperation.

Wang stressed that the setting up of overseas schools is of significance to promote people-to-people exchanges among countries and a common practice for countries to strengthen international education cooperation, which is in line with the trend of the times and the interest of all parties.

Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Monday that both the renaming of the roads and the protest on Saturday shows that some Hungarian politicians of opposition party are using the Fudan University project to challenge Hungary’s current leader by attacking the incumbent government’s friendly China policy. 

Karacsony is the top challenger to Orban in the general elections next April, Reuters reported.

Building the branch of Fudan University is a public beneficial project, not an ideological or geopolitical tool. But if faced with a dilemma, suspending the plan would be a flexible and reasonable option for the Orban government, Zhang Hong, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told the Global Times. 

Orban’s government maintains relatively sound relations with China, despite China-EU ties have encountered difficulties, so Orban’s government is under mounting pressure given the deep-rooted prejudice against China in the public opinion sphere in Europe, Zhang said.

Citing the earlier case this month where Hungary blocked a European Union (EU) statement criticizing China’s treatment on Hong Kong issues, observers believe the friendship between China and Hungary will not be easily shaken.

Zhang said in order to avoid causing trouble to our friend, China also needs to be flexible while upholding its core interests.

Comment on this by a leading German academic:

“Without wanting to defend Orban: But Soros did something that would have met resistance even in Germany. He has created a university in New York especially for Hungary and the former Eastern Bloc countries, with three to four different Masters in Gender Studies and an entire department for this purpose. Also a department for nationalism studies. A university that goes abroad without proof of quality control by running a corresponding curriculum at home (in the USA, of course, hardly anyone would go there) would have had difficulties with accreditation with us too. Nobody writes about it because it doesn’t fit ideologically. The European University definitely also has very good and excellent subjects and professors. But its founder was primarily concerned with educating Eastern Europeans as a whole, not just educating students. And such an ideological list is highly problematic as the raison d’être of a university. Fudan University looks different. They have excellent science. The CEU is not interested in that. I don’t know whether the Fudan also want to transport them to Hungary – it would be interesting to know the detailed plans before judging the project. If so, then the Hungarians would really benefit from it, because that kind of thing costs a lot of money, so you usually save it for your home country. „

The initial plans are no indicator how the future development will be as the CPC at the begining tries to appear harmless. But if many Western academics are dependent from them, the midset and the plan will change.  The natural sciences are different from the humanities. In the past, these natural scientific contacts were mainly used for Chinese industrial espionage.If it was just about natural science you might accept it, dependent from the concrete plan and put a secret service agent behind every Chinese scientist . However In the humanities, you don’t need Chinese propaganda or some sort of teaching like in the Chinese Gaoke,  scissors in your head, since such dependencies also mean that sensitive, but existential issues and topics  for a democracy will be excluded, censored or even dependent professors and academics censor themselves, especially since national-conscious Chinese students and professors, including the Chinese secret service and United Front, want to attack, denounce and silence critics and so called anti-China forces. .One can already see from the acticities of the Confucius Institutes which are propaganda stations of the United Front of the CPC how such dependency corrupts and silences academics and promotes only sinophile brains. Soros stands for democracy, a Chinese university for neototalitarianism.

What would be important would be an additional state education fund instead of  Chinse money that does not allow dependencies on rich patrons or communist parties. The question is whether Fudan is just an ideology factory. In the meantime it is a pretty good university, even in international comparison, where you can learn something. And that’s actually what it’s about. But the question is also whether this is not a wolf in sheep’s disguise who claims a win-win situation, initially holds back and then expands his power and changes the initial criteria. Universities shouldn’t be ideology factories, neither by Soros nor the CPC. You don’t need either, although Soros Open Society only propagates Popper’s The Open Society and its enemies, i.e. classical liberalism and the previous self-image of the value orientated democratic West. A discussion between a liberal and a neo-totalitarian would be interesting, but that won’t happen in any of these establishments and of course not in Chinese universities. There is no reciprocity. Just one way. .The EU or the respective states can build their own universities and start-ups on their own, if they want. They don’t need any conditioned money from China. You just have to free yourself from the neoliberal ideology of wealthy patrons and see that as an original state task with a corresponding educational budget and demand it  Strangely enough, one would rather like money and dependence on China or Soros , whereby it is already bizarre for Western selfunderstanding to put liberalism and neototalitarianism on the same level. There is a difference, although Soros and Popper’s teachings in the exaggeration of Fukuyama’s „The End of History“ once again became the purest ideology and historian materialism of the liberal bourgeoisie as world history´s revolutionary subject. But if it was just about natural science, Orban or any state goverment could also ask Soros to establish additional academic chairsand faculties in the natural sciences. One should break with this sinophilia and engagement policy towards China, although one should not choose Trump’s decoupling and full confrontation.

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