China to teach pupils about how well the nation has fought coronavirus
3rd November 2020

Chinese children will be taught in school how well the country dealt with coronavirus – with no mention of global outrage over Beijing’s handling of the crisis

  • China’s Ministry of Education announced the new revision plans last week
  • School students will be taught with state-approved content about the outbreak
  • The new materials will focus on the country’s ‘heroic’ fight against COVID-19
  • But there will be no mentions of the worldwide backlash over Beijing’s response

China is planning to update its school curriculum with content that boasts the country’s ‘heroic’ fight against COVID-19, without mentioning the global backlash over Beijing’s handling of the outbreak.

The new materials will teach students about ‘the basic fact that the Party and the state always put the life and safety of its people first’ during the coronavirus outbreak, the Ministry of Education said.

But Beijing’s new patriotism education will not include the intense scrutiny over its response to the virus, with the US and Australia leading accusations against the country that it covered up the origins and severity of the crisis.

China is planning to update its school curriculum with content that boasts the country’s ‘heroic’ fight against COVID-19. In this file photo, students attend the 100th anniversary of the founding of Wuhan High School on the first day of the new semester on September 1

The new materials will teach students about ‘the basic fact that the Party and the state always put the life and safety of its people first’ during the coronavirus outbreak. A teacher is pictured speaking to her students in a classroom at a primary school in Wuhan on September 1

The coronavirus emerged late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and has since spread around the world, infecting over nearly 47 million people.

China has been criticised for not being fast enough in its initial response and for attempting to cover up early reports of the contagion.

Negative perceptions of China have increased sharply among people in several Western countries – especially the UK and Australia – following the coronavirus outbreak, according to a survey last month.

The poll, conducted, conducted by the US-based Pew Research Centre in 14 democratic countries with advanced economies, found a majority held a negative view of how China had handled the coronavirus.

Among 14,276 adults across the 14 countries, 61 per cent of them said China had dealt with the outbreak poorly.

China has been criticised for not being fast enough in its initial response and for attempting to cover up early reports of the contagion. This photo taken on August 17 shows medical workers collecting swab samples from students at a primary school in Handan city, Hebei province

Despite the mounting international outrage, the Chinese education authorities are trying to shape a positive narrative by adding new, government-approved content about China’s ‘fighting spirits against the virus’ to its national school curriculum.

Students in primary and middle schools across the country will learn coronavirus-related materials in biology, health and physical education, history, and literature classes, the Ministry of Education said in a statement released Wednesday.

The content will ‘help students understand the basic fact that the Party and the state always put the life and safety of its people first’, according to the officials.

‘Students will learn about key figures and deeds which emerged during the epidemic prevention and control efforts.

‘They will learn to foster public awareness and dedication, to enrich knowledge about the advantages of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics,’ the notice read.

Beijing’s new patriotism education will not include the intense scrutiny over its response to the virus, with the US and Australia leading accusations against the country that it covered up the origins and severity of the crisis. School students attend a class in Wuhan on September 1

It comes as Beijing’s propaganda machine has been churning out praise for the Chinese government’s COVID-19 response, reframing the public health crisis as an example of the agility and organisation of the Communist leadership.

In September, Chinese President Xi Jinping boasted China’s role in battling the coronavirus pandemic at a triumphant awards ceremony for medical professionals decorated with bugle calls and applause.

There was no mention however of whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, who was among the first to be silenced for raising the alarm about the outbreak and later died from the disease.

Beijing also issued a white paper in June titled ‘China’s actions against the coronavirus outbreak’ to ‘leave the correct collective memory’ for the country’s handling, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at the time.

Beijing has insisted the source of the virus is still unknown and the country has been ‘open and transparent’ with sharing coronavirus data with the world.

China claims to have contained the virus in recent months while recording mostly imported cases from inbound travellers.

Last month, the country saw a local COVID-19 outbreak in its Muslim-dominant region Xinjiang where nearly 300 people have been infected since October 24.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in mainland China now stands at 86,070 while the death toll unchanged at 4,634.

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