The War on Thought

Xia Yeliang, former professor of economics at Beijing University, was sacked for being liberal-minded and outspoken. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Xia Yeliang, former professor of economics at Beijing University. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Since the fifth generation leadership team of the Chinese Communist Party assumed office three years ago they have taken drastic steps to curb freedom of expression and overpower religious and civil organisations not sanctioned by the Party. The Weiquan movement is  a group of human rights lawyers, Beijing has arrested many of its leading lights including the well-known Pu Zhiqiang.

Along with the crackdown on dissent has come ever increasing censorship, of all media, most notably new media in the form of the popular messaging and chat services Weixin and Weibo. At the same time the Party has taken the campaign into the classroom, particularly those great crucibles of thought, universities. Installing CCTV in classes and sacking prominent liberal-minded academics who may espouse “western values”.

 Michael Sainsbury has written a two-part series on The War on Thought for Global Pulse Magazine*
Part 1: Fighting the Future 

As China’s supreme leader Xi Jinping sails into his third year at the helm of the world’s most populous nation, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: some of the most vitally important soldiers on the ground in the Communist Party’s war of survival do not carry guns. Most have never fired a shot. They are its army of censors and propaganda chiefs.

It is a war against ideas and the most basic of freedoms — the freedom of thought. It is war driven by fear. For decades now, the party has been freed from the shackles of any ideology and countless millions of its officials have become driven by rampant greed. Beyond the fear of ideas is fear of the Chinese people themselves. Read more…

Part 2: China’s War on Thought

There’s a chill wind blowing through the draughty corridors of China’s universities. A handful of well know liberal academics have been sacked, most notably Xia Leyiang a senior economics professor at Beijing University, the country’s Oxford to nearby Tsinghua University’s Cambridge. It’s a classic example of, as the Chinese saying goes, killing a chicken to scare the monkeys.

Cameras are being rolled out in the classrooms around the country and the Party chiefs have handed down edicts, which came to light in late January, demanding restrictions on western textbooks and forbidding the amorphous, fit to purpose “western values”  – but not that most western of ideologies Marxism, one guesses. Read more…

* Global Pulse,, has a paywall but you can register for eight free stories and we encourage you to take a look.