07/05/2022, 16.05
CHINA
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University students joining the Communist Party to get a secure job

by John Ai

The high rate of youth unemployment does not concern graduates in Marxist ideology. Since Xi Jinping came to power, Party membership has grown rapidly. Recent graduates now prefer employment in the public sector and state-owned enterprises rather than foreign firms.

Rome (AsiaNews) – As economic growth slows and job opportunities dry up, many university graduates join the Communist Party of China (CPC) since membership has become a crucial prerequisite for public sector positions.

This year’s graduates exceeded 10 million for the first time, at a time when youth (16-24) unemployment reached an 18.6 per cent, a situation made worse by the government zero-COVID policy.

The CPC’s Organisation Department last week announced that it has more than 96 million members. Since Xi took over 10 years ago, its membership expanded rapidly, with 21 million new members since the 18th Congress in 2012. About 53.2 per cent hold a university degree.

According to the Financial Times, with high unemployment, on a recruiting website for young graduates, the number of openings requiring a degree in Marxism is up by 20 per cent.

In recent years, the authorities have also ordered private companies – Chinese or foreign – to set up an internal Party committee, requiring them to hire staff and set aside a budget for Party matters.

After the crackdown on technology and real estate companies in 2021, private companies are recruiting Marxism graduates to show their loyalty to the authorities.

Companies need people who know Party doctrine to manage relations with the government and carefully follow the official line in their business operations.

Marxism and CPC doctrines are compulsory courses for students in China. Before Xi, students were largely unfamiliar with them.

The significant shift came in 2018. That year the constitution was amended to scrap the two-term limit for the presidency and universities were ordered to have at least one teacher of Marxism for every 350 students. In the following years the recruitment of ideology teachers boomed, increasing by two-thirds.

Marxism courses in China include the philosophy of Karl Marx and the doctrines of CPC leaders, from Mao Zedong to Xi.

In recent years, the amount of space dedicated to Xi's thoughts in university textbooks rose significantly. Following this trend, many top universities have set up research centres on the doctrine of China’s current president.

Still, Chinese authorities appear to take a pragmatic approach to the philosophy of Marx and Mao.

As social conflicts intensify and labour rights remain unprotected, the practical application of Marxist philosophy is seen as something dangerous by the authorities. As a result, nostalgia for the Mao era has become an underground phenomenon.

When left-wing and Maoist students joined the labour movement in the southern city of Shenzhen in 2018, they were promptly arrested along with the protesting workers.

A university official told the Financial Times anonymously that "this is the golden time for Marxism majors.” In fact, newly hired university lecturers in ideology are offered a lucrative bonus.

Meanwhile, lessons in Xi's cult of personality begin as early as in elementary school; in elite schools, teachers are offered above-average salaries.

The impact of the pandemic and government economic policy have prompted graduates to change their orientation in the search for a job.

Jobs in foreign companies are not profitable for those from the best universities. Getting a public sector job is increasingly seen as a better bet.

In 2021, 70 per cent of graduates from Tsinghua University, one of China’s best, chose to work for the government, Party organisations or state-owned enterprises.

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