What Brand of "Chinese Culture" does Chinese State Councillor Chen Zhili Represent?

A Dubious Background

State Councillor Chen Zhili of the People's Republic of China went to South Africa on the 11th of July for the opening of the "Voyage of Chinese Culture to Africa." She was also to visit Zimbabwe and Tanzania. Africans may want to know more about who Chen Zhili is, and what she represents: a career spent denying the freedoms of speech and belief, and, in her enthusiastic persecution of Falun Gong, the attempt to control a nation's thoughts and beliefs through brainwashing, torture, the denial of access to education, and the indoctrination and promulgation of hate propaganda.

Rising Through the Ranks Under the Dictator's Wing

Chen Zhili first rose to prominence as an enemy of free speech. In 1989 she worked closely with Jiang Zemin, then mayor of Shanghai, and Zeng Qinghong, even then Jiang's right-hand man (and now suspected of arranging the June 28 shooting of David Liang), in closing the Shanghai Economics Guidance newspaper, because it published the views of then rising democracy movement in China. Jiang rewarded Chen by promoting her to be Shanghai's Minister of Propaganda.

On March 18th, 1998, Jiang, who himself had risen to become the most powerful person in China due to his role in cracking down on the democracy movement after the Tiananmen massacre, appointed Chen as Minister of Education, even though she had no previous experience in education.

Opposed by the People, Promoted by the Party

Real educators in China have strongly opposed Chen. Hong Kong's Zhengmin magazine reported presidents from well-known universities directly under the Ministry of Education, such as Qinghua University, Beijing University, Zhejiang University and Fudan University, co-signed a letter requesting her removal. In March 2002, during the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Chen was impeached. In March 2003 Jiang put Chen's name forward for the position of State Councillor (mainly in charge of education). Kaifang magazine reported that 27 of 32 delegations to the People's Congress expressed strong objections to Chen. Nearly 40 colleges and universities opposed her. Yet, with Jiang's backing, this Minister who was slated to be removed was promoted to State Councillor.

Schools and Universities Forced to Promote Jiang's Persecution of Falun Gong

The vigorous opposition to Chen very likely reflects strong disapproval among China's educators for Chen's most notable project: turning China's entire educational system into a tool for persecuting Falun Gong. Under Chen's leadership graduate schools, middle schools, primary schools, and even kindergartens have been used to persecute Falun Gong. This persecution directly violates the P.R.C.'s1 Education law, which states, "citizens shall enjoy equal opportunity of education, regardless of their ethnicity, race, gender, occupation, property, or religious belief."

Teachers who refuse to participate in anti-Falun Gong activities or who refuse to give up their practice of Falun Gong are dismissed and illegally detained. Students are denied admission, or expelled from school or denied entering a higher grade or graduation. In some cases students are treated in this way not because they practice Falun Gong but because their family members do. Teachers and students are sent by force to "transformation classes" -- quasi concentration camps where Falun Gong practitioners are subjected to brainwashing, or to China's notoriously brutal labour camps, or to mental hospitals where they are subjected to horrifying tortures at the hands of psychiatrists employing mind destroying drugs.

At Qinghua University alone more than 300 faculty members, graduate school students and undergraduates have been illegally detained, dismissed, and sent to forced labour camps.

Falun Gong practitioners are hardly Chen's only victims. She has attempted to turn the clock back in China's schools, and make their business that of indoctrination rather than education. She has had hate propaganda attacking Falun Gong included in the textbooks of elementary and middle schools, and made answering questions on exams about Falun Gong "correctly" necessary for passing. Schools at all levels incorporate anti-Falun Gong education into their instruction.

One of the biggest initiatives of this former Minister of Propaganda was the "Million Signature" campaign. Beginning in February of 2001, students at every level of schooling across the whole of China were deceived, coerced, or threatened into signing a petition denouncing Falun Gong. This petition was then taken to the United Nations, where a few governments who did China's bidding acknowledged it, and then these acknowledgements were publicised in China to strengthen the government's anti-Falun Gong propaganda.

Through the power the education system gives over China's youngsters, Chen was able to force onto Chinese society an "anti-Falun Gong movement." Youngsters throughout China were forced to take part in anti-Falun Gong activities, including the circulation of pledges among adults "not to believe, not to spread, but resist" Falun Gong. Various methods have also been employed to use students to spread the hate propaganda against Falun Gong to their families.


1. P.R.C. - Peoples Republic of China

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