China released a new law, “Patriotic Education Law of the People’s Republic of China”, purported to be adopted at the 2023rd Session of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People’s Congress on October 24 this year. The law has five chapters with 40 articles. As usual, it tries to justify the new law by claiming it to conform with the Chinese constitution but the contents of the law betray and spell out the Chinese Communist Party’s noxious intention to indoctrinate the masses with the cult worship of the communist leaders and their obsolete ideologies. Let us examine what this law is all about; why the CCP has to resort to this law; and what patriotism means under this law.
Why Patriotic Education?
Article 1 of the law states, “This law is formulated on the basis of the Constitution, so as to strengthen education on patriotism in the new era, to inherit and carry forward the spirit of patriotism, and to gather the majestic forces of building a modern socialist country in an all-round way and comprehensively advancing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
This brings us to ponder what patriotism is and why China is harping on it. According to EngloPedia, “Patriotism is called a thought of an individual which is linked to his homeland. This is a feeling that a person has for their homeland or the land in which they grew up and is bound by values, culture, history, and affection.”
It is the love and loyalty one feels for one’s own country. A sense of belongingness and pride you feel about being a citizen of the country. But patriotism is something that comes from within, it is a germane and spontaneous feeling of love, duty, and sacrifice for one’s country without any external coercion or pressure.
Therefore, patriotism is not taught, it grows through the love and gratitude you feel for your country. If a nation comes to a stage where patriotism has to be taught to its people at all levels, it indicates the fragile and vulnerable state of that nation.
The CCP’s Patriotism:
Article 3 and 6 of the law betrays what patriotic education means under the CCP’s law. It says, “Patriotic education shall hold the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, persist in using Marxism, Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of the ‘Three Represents’, the Scientific Outlook on Development, and Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as guidance, …”
From this, it is very clear that the CCP’s patriotic education is nothing more than indoctrinating and forcing the obsolete communist ideology on the masses and making it a mandatory part of education and social life. By idolizing Mao and Deng, the law also tries to erase all the deaths and sufferings that Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, and Deng’s Tiananmen Square massacre brought on China.
Marxism talks of the greatest benefit for the largest number of people. Leninism talks of equality and independence of all nationals and their right to secede. If the CCP leadership is serious about upholding the teachings of Marx and Lenin, they should first follow and implement the core concepts of Marxism and Leninism.
Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of America and the principal author of the Declaration of American Independence, has said that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Will the CCP’s patriotism allow dissent?
Attempts to justify historical distortion:
Clause 2 of Article 6 says that patriotic education will have “The history of the Communist Party of China, the history of New China, the history of reform and opening up, the history of socialist development, and the history of the development of the Chinese nations.”
The CCP leadership is known for distorting history to justify their rule and legitimize their occupation of the neighboring countries. Among the many fictitious claims, China asserts Tibet as part of China since ancient times based on the 7th century Tibetan Emperor Srongtsan Gampo’s marriage with the Tang’s princess Wencheng Kongjo. They also claim Tibet as part of the Yuan dynasty which they inherited from the Mongols in the 16th century. But these claims have no basis, Tang’s princess was, in fact, won over by the Tibetan Emperor through his military prowess, and the Yuan Dynasty is the Mongol Dynasty under which China too was an occupied territory.
Through this patriotic education law, China plans to rewrite history and indoctrinate the CCP version of history to Chinese people and the world. China has banned books about the early history of the Mongolian people and removed exhibits on “Genghis Khan and His Empire and even souvenirs associated with him” in the name of ethnic unity. Tibet and other occupied territories are facing the same problem. If the future 1.4 billion people of China are raised to believe in this CCP’s distorted version of the history of China and the world, it will inflict great damage to the history of China and the history of the occupied countries and for that matter, the history of the world.
Constitution and Ethnic Unity:
Clause 7 of Article 2 says it will teach “Awareness and concepts of the Constitution and laws, national unity and ethnic unity.” The CCP leadership must first respect and abide by the Chinese Constitution before it tries to teach and make people aware of it. Chinese leaders have blatantly violated articles 4, 33, 35, and 36 of the Chinese Constitution, where human rights, equality, and autonomy of minority nationals, and freedom to practice religion are granted. The patriotic education law will only be used to distort the Constitution and interpret it along the CCP’s dictates.
The term “national and ethnic unity” is repeated in many of the articles and clauses. If the CCP leadership is serious about this, they need to respect the minority nationals’ language, culture, and religion. It needs to reflect on what it has done in the Larunggar and Yachengar monastic complexes in the Kham region of Tibet. Forced disassociation of Tibetans, Chinese, Mongolians, and other nationals and the forced closures of the monastic complexes are against the spirit of this national and ethnic unity.
One Country, Two Systems:
Chapter 2 of the law, “Duties and Tasks” makes integration of the contents of the Patriotic Education Law teaching mandatory in all levels of state and civil establishments including, schools, universities, military, businesses, and religious institutions. Article 17 makes minors’ parents and guardians responsible for urging and coaxing their children to embrace patriotic education. What is intimidating here is that Article 12 of the law empowers the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Chinese People’s Armed Police Force to “make full use of their own resources to carry out patriotic education for the society.”
Article 23 talks about patriotic education in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan based on the “one country, two systems”. It is an open secret what has become of the 17-Point Agreement with Tibet in 1951 and, more recently, the fate of Hong Kong democracy. Continuous threats to invade Taiwan are in no way going to convince the Taiwanese of this “one country, two systems”.
Chapter 3, Article 25 “Implementation Measures” talks of exploration, promotion, and full utilization of “red resources and red tourism”. This will force educational and civic establishments to tour and visit communist-related places and events during official and school excursions.
Article 28 says, “On the anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, the Martyrs’ Day, the National Memorial Day for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre, and other important commemorative days, people’s governments at the county level or above shall organize and carry out commemorative activities and hold commemorative ceremonies such as laying flower baskets, paying respects to memorial facilities, paying respects to martyrs’ graves, and public sacrifices.”
This Article is pure jingoism, anti-Japanese, and divisive. It betrays the CCP’s attitude toward Japan and other foreign nations. Instead of trying to heal historical wounds for a better and peaceful future, the CCP leadership is fueling anti-Japanese feelings in people’s minds. This would only divide the two civilizations and the CCP leadership is using this anti-Japanese feeling to incite false patriotism in people’s minds to justify their rule. China has used this anti-Japanese incitement in the forced colonial boarding schools in Tibet too. This is dangerous not only for China and the occupied regions but also for Asia and the world.
We are all aware of how Hitler’s obsession and indoctrination of racial supremacy plunged the world into the inferno of hate and suffering. If all the nations live and harp on the historical misadventures, this earth would become a dangerous place to live in and we could never pass on a peaceful and harmonious world for our children. China must first reflect on what it has done in Tibet, East Turkistan, and Southern Mongolia since the establishment of the CCP regime.
H.H. the Dalai Lama often says that the past is history and we must learn from it and work together today to create a better tomorrow for all. He has even gone to the extent of compromising Tibetan independence to resolve the Sino-Tibet conflict for mutual peace and benefits.
Return of the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution:
Article 33 of Chapter IV “Supports and Safeguards” says that units and individuals that have made outstanding contributions to patriotic education are to be commended and rewarded in accordance with relevant regulations and Article 39 at the end says, “Where departments or units with patriotic education duties do not perform patriotic education duties in accordance with law, the responsible leaders and directly responsible personnel are to be given sanctions in accordance with law.” These two Articles along with others are bound to encourage the rise of units and individuals like Mao’s Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution, who went rampant and inflicted huge damage to Chinese civilization at the cost of millions of lives.
Mao incited the young Red Guards to condemn and purge his adversaries through false charges, struggle sessions, and intimidations. The atmosphere of fear and suspicion pervaded and Mao was worshiped as a cult figure and this consolidated Mao’s position as indisputable leader. The law here is targeting something similar to consolidate Xi Jinping and the CCP’s position firmly for the years to come and the recent purge of high-ranking leaders are harbinger of what is to come soon. It would not be odd to see something similar to Mao’s “Little Red Book” forced upon the Chinese citizens soon.
With great respect to Henry Kissinger, a man known for harnessing and taming China since Nixon’s days and who died last month, China has not changed ultimately. There is doubt “If Kissinger was serving as the U.S. secretary of state.” The West has helped and nurtured the CCP all these years and this enabled the CCP leadership to gain full control over China and keep its people suppressed.
This patriotic education is aimed at the Chinese and the people of the occupied territories. If the world let the CCP leadership to legitimize the forced imposition of this “Patriotic Education Law of the People’s Republic of China” on the 1.4 billion Chinese and the minority nationals, we are all headed for a difficult era of racial, ultranationalist, aggression, and jingoism. This will get us back to the hot and cold war era situation of communist expansionism.
Morality of Patriotism:
Patriotism is a virtue and it has to be morally right. A real patriot is one who loves and respect his nation for the positive value it shares with the citizens. If the nation or its political leadership does something immoral hurting the national pride and people’s wellbeing, a patriot should be able to stand up to save the nation and the people. Liu Xiaobo, a 2010 Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate, stood for freedom and democracy in China. He was a great patriot but the CCP leadership arrested and condemned him to prison life.
This brings us to question whether Chinese people are really happy about the CCP regime, if not there is no space for patriotism. Perhaps this could be the reason why the CCP is coerced to impose this Patriotic Education Law. But we must remember that while patriotism is a necessary attribute of good citizenship, if it is imposed or made mandatory, then it could become a burden and dangerous for both the state and the subject.
Dr. Noell Birondo of Wichita State University, in his paper [Aristotelian Eudaimonism and Patriotism], refers to the Aristotelian virtue of character with patriotism and notes, “Patriotism seems also to be constrained by the moral goodness of the object of one’s loyalty. I can of course remain loyal to my friend in spite of the moral failings in her. But there are limits. The limits might not extend to certain injustices committed against people outside one’s country. […] But the virtuous person still cannot, and should not remain loyal to what is evil. Patriotism is no virtue in an incurably unjust state.”
Even the Japanese Bushido, the way of the warrior, where loyalty and patriotism are considered the highest virtues of Samurai says, “Bushido did not require us to make our conscience the slave of any lord or king.”
Therefore, the international community must step in to enlighten the CCP leadership of the apocalyptic consequences of this law and save the Chinese people and the world from communist Armageddon. The law is supposed to be implemented from January 1, 2024, a very unpleasant New Year gift from the CCP leadership. The international community should join with the Chinese and other minority nationals to protest the implementation of this Han chauvinist and xenophobic “Patriotic Education Law of the People’s Republic of China.”
Disclaimer: View expressed above are the author’s own, here do no necessarily reflect those of the Tibet Policy Institute
The author is the Representative of the Liaison Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama for Japan and East Asia. He is the former Secretary of the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) and former Director of the Tibet Policy Institute (TPI) of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). His publications include “Harnessing the Dragon Fume” and “the Ancient Tibetan Civilization.” Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own.
 Melvyn C. Goldstein, Dawei Sherab, and William R. Sebenschuh, A Tibetan Revolutionary – The and times of Bapa Phuntso Wangye, University of California Press, 2004
 Kunihiko Miyake, If Kissinger was serving as the U.S. secretary of state, Japan Times. 8/12/2023
 Noell Birondo, Aristotelian Edudaimonism and Patriotism, Dialogue and Universalism No.2/2015 (Ref: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics VIII-IX)
 Inazo Nitobe, Bushido-the soul of Japan, p-107, IBC publications, Japan