Chinese citizens have been urged to “inherit the red gene” by following new morality rules which use President Xi Jinping’s eponymous political thought as a guiding principle.
The new guidelines, released by the country’s State Council on Sunday, focus heavily on nationalism and the citizen’s duty in “bearing the great responsibility of national rejuvenation.”
Doing so involves being polite, following traditional Chinese virtues such as doing charity and keeping promises, promoting “positive content” online, and embracing socialist values to “carry forward the national spirit.”
Citizens are instructed to study the Communist Party’s guiding philosophy, especially Xi Jinping Thought, which was written into the country’s constitution in 2017 and reaffirms the Party’s leadership and hold on Chinese people’s daily life.
The morality guidelines – officially the “Outline for Implementing the Moral Construction of Citizens in the New Era” – are an update of an earlier publication from 2001. The new version highlights Xi’s personal role in defending the country’s morals, while removing any references to previous leaders, including Mao Zedong, the founder of the people’s republic.
They come as Xi and other senior Party leaders gather in Beijing for a series of closed-door meetings to set the national agenda for the coming years.
‘Xi Jinping Thought’
Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a longtime analyst of Chinese politics, told CNN the emphasis on Xi Jinping Thought could be tied to the ongoing trade war with the US.
“As the economy is not doing so well, the party is asking people to follow its values and encourage obedience even in bad times,” he said.
He added that nationalistic sentiment was an important source of legitimacy for the ruling party, and expected the guidelines to be taught in schools and promoted through state propaganda.
William Nee, a China researcher for Amnesty International, said the new rules could “be interpreted as a further attempt by Xi Jinping to consolidate his power within his party and the society.”
He added that the call for maintaining a healthy discourse on the internet could also potentially give rise to greater restrictions on freedom of expression online – which are already strictly controlled by the Great Firewall of China.
The new guidelines do not specify any particular penalties for those who fail to abide by them, but experts said they could have a great effect on how people live their lives nevertheless.
On Tuesday, China also passed a new law banning “uncivilized behavior” in the country’s subways. Eating, drinking, or playing music on speakers will all be subject to penalties starting from April next year.