In China, I often speak at a variety of colleges and universities around the country and talk with the students, which is meaningful I think, as there is no doubt that communication is good for a society’s sustainable development.
On May 14, I was scheduled to give a speech at Zhejiang University, but it looked like it was going to be cancelled because of the university’s 114th anniversary celebrations. But with the help of the parties concerned, I made a presentation on schedule.
The students at Zhejiang University surprised me. The house was full of students interested in politics. They questioned me on highly politicized issues, including the Chinese political system, the independence of the judiciary, East Asia’s politics, Confucian culture, and so on. The discussion was friendly from beginning to end.
There was also a high school student, who in another 20 days would be participating in the National University Entrance Exam that is the most important exam in China. She got parental permission to listen to my speech, and asked me about cultivating the ideal personality and society. No matter what I said to her, it would not increase her scores.
Answering the girl, I stressed once again one of my old points that the world’s best students will be concentrated in the high schools in China. High school students in China are hardworking, ambitious, brave and full of responsibility and ideals and a sense of society, which is far more developed than the peers in the United States. It will be a tragedy if the universities cannot make full use full use of their potential.
This raises a question about the relationship between universities and social stability. Are some thoughts that are considered wrong or dangerous really a threat to stability? I don’t think so.
For instance, the universities around the world were very chaotic in 1960s. Chinese students engaged in the ”cultural revolution” (1966 – 1976), and US students demonstrated against the Vietnam War, Japanese students echoed the two countries, and French students nearly seized Paris, only students in the Soviet Union seemed to do their learning in peace. In the eyes of the older generation, the four countries students at that time were undoubtedly not mainstreamed. China, the US, Japan and France are still in existence, only the Soviet Union has disappeared.
Strangling the impulse of the youth is perhaps one of explanations for the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In my experience, college students seem to be divided into two kinds. The majority of them have no enthusiasm for political and social issues, they might sometimes write a few satirical weibo posts, but in real life, they will not talk about politics, either from fear or disinterest. The other type of student, the minority, is known as the Angry Youth, and they will spend at least two hours a day on political issues, criticizing and debating. Generally speaking, the angry youth can be divided into right and left, but their position may completely change.
What they are doing in school may not stand the test of history. However, when the angry youth get older, the world is still stable.
So my thought is that the Chinese government wants to strengthen the spirit of education, which is understandable, but the problem is what kind of learning. I think the government should have self-confidence and treat the young people tolerantly, leaving time for them to become citizens.
Note: This article is abridged from XXXXX and only represents the views of the author.
Translated by Maxin