Education Journal

Politics in Charge: Politically Correct Higher Education in the People's Republic of China

1995.第23卷第2期(Vol. 23 No. 2).pp. 51–71


Politics in Charge: Politically Correct Higher Education in the People’s Republic of China




What is the interface between politics and education in today's Chinese universities? This paper examines the role of politics in the ten-year development of Shenzhen University (SZU). Special attention is paid to several aspects of university life as they relate to educational politics: leadership selection, faculty participation, handling of corrupt practices, and pedagogy.

Based on ethnographic research over seven years, the case study concludes that politics has had a fundamental, negative effect on education. During all three SZU administrations politics has consumed the attention of school leaders. The first administration undertook a very careful balancing act, playing politicians and educational bureaucrats against one another. The administration that came to power following June 4, 1989 was beset by factional politics, with the president and party secretary vying for control. The third leader ran an administration based on "social relationship (guanxi)." This case study shows the importance of individual leaders, especially department heads. The guanxi between leaders has replaced on-going systems of management. Politically correct behaviour has characterized the administration of education at SZU, with a consequent perceived decline in educational quality.