Wed, Dec 17, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Chinese schools to teach ‘ethnic unity’ to fight discontent

AGENCIES , BEIJING

Chinese children will study “ethnic unity” from primary school, the Education Ministry said at the end of an Olympic year marred by violent riots in Tibet and unrest in Xinjiang.

An outline of the new policy suggested Beijing is worried about discontent among minority groups, although its policies in regions like Tibet, which have attracted foreign criticism, are widely supported at home by a generation of vocal nationalists.

The new classes will run all the way through school, with high school students getting up to 14 hours a year to help them “recognize the superiority of our government and Communist Party’s ethnic policies.”

Primary school children should learn a “basic awareness of the vital nature of ‘encouraging ethnic unity, protecting national unity and opposing ethnic separatism,’” said a summary of the policy posted on the ministry Web site.

Older children would gain a “correct understanding” of government and party policy, while those in high school would also be expected to have a firm grasp on basic theory about “ethnic problems” and “establish a Marxist outlook on ethnicity.”

Meanwhile, police in China have arrested two people suspected of despoiling the national flag and other national symbols with ink-filled eggs, Chinese media reported yesterday.

More than 100 policemen were dispatched to find the suspected culprits after four flags at a cemetery for communist martyrs in Chongqing were last month splattered with ink, the Chongqing Times said.

“This is a case that has harmed the image of the party and the nation and has sought to damage our democratic legal system,” lead investigator Wang Lijun was quoted as saying.

Police investigated 873 suspects over 10 days before issuing arrest warrants for two people identified as Zhang Jingzhi and Wen Tingyu, the paper reported.

The two have been accused of tossing eggs filled with ink at four flags, a national one and others representing organs of the Chinese Communist Party.

Zhang and Wen have been formally charged with “insulting the national flag.”

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