A mix­ture of aca­demic suc­cess and hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence pro­vide lec­tur­ers with a stim­u­lat­ing en­vi­ron­ment, as

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Chinaö - Hukou, hukou hukou Con­tact the writer at houliqiang@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

In 2015, shortly be­fore de­liv­er­ing his first lec­ture at the Party School of the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China in Bei­jing, Zheng Huan be­gan to panic. He felt he wasn’t ready for the chal­lenge of de­liv­er­ing the class lec­ture, even though he had spent three years em­ployed as a teach­ing as­sis­tant and was fa­mil­iar with the school’s meth­ods and ethos.

“De­spite learn­ing a lot of the­ory dur­ing my 10-year study of po­lit­i­cal science, I failed to an­swer many of the stu­dents’ ques­tions when I worked as an as­sis­tant. My knowl­edge and the train­ing I had re­ceived weren’t enough to meet the de­mands of the job,” the 32-year-old lec­turer said.

“Many of the stu­dents have doc­tor­ates, and many have an in­ter­na­tional per­spec­tive be­cause they have trav­eled over­seas fre­quently. They know what I know, but I don’t nec­es­sar­ily know what they know.”

The school, whch is the na­tion’s top train­ing es­tab­lish­ment for Party of­fi­cials, of­fers a wide range of cour­ses. Each lec­ture lasts two hours, and ir­re­spec­tive of the topic, a few stu­dents are al­ways ex­perts in the field. For ex­am­ple, a re­cent lec­ture about the new nor­mal of China’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment was ac­tu­ally in­tro­duced by one of the stu­dents.

In ad­di­tion to learn­ing about the­ory, the of­fi­cials also need to un­der­stand how to ap­ply that knowl­edge, which presents many chal­lenges, ac­cord­ing to Zheng.

“Freed tem­po­rar­ily from the bur­dens of work, the stu­dents make full use of their time at the Party School to find an­swers to the ques­tions they have been ask­ing them­selves and dis­cov­er­ing so­lu­tions to prob­lems that have been trou­bling them,” he said.

Chang­ing times

When Yue Liang be­gan work­ing as a full-time teacher in 2012, he had al­ready taught part time at an­other school for 10 years, while study­ing his­tory at Bei­jing Nor­mal Univer­sity. The 35-year-old still finds his work chal­leng­ing.

“As a Party School teacher, you can never stop learn­ing. The Party al­ways keeps pace with the times. The world is chang­ing and the Party is also chang­ing to re­spond to new prob­lems,” he said.

“Many peo­ple say it’s a tir­ing job be­cause our stu­dents are of­fi­cials with deep ex­pe­ri­ence and dif­fer­ent back­grounds, so the teach­ers have to know about dif­fer­ent sub­jects. It’s not enough to just read books about your own ma­jor.”

He added that last year he read about 40 books on his­tory, eco­nom­ics, po­lit­i­cal science and so­ci­ol­ogy.

Read­ing is one of the main ac­tiv­i­ties on cam­pus, and in ad­di­tion to reg­u­lar dis­cus­sions at a book­store on the school grounds, the dif­fer­ent de­part­ments and teach­ers or­ga­nize reg­u­lar di­a­logues. More­over, to gain even more ex­pe­ri­ence, many teach­ers con­duct ex­ten­sive re­search in the field.

Yue spends more than 40 days a year on field re­search. “When I re­turn, I con­tact my col­leagues and stu­dents to dis­cuss the prob­lems I have dis­cov­ered, and con­sult doc­u­ments to iden­tify the causes and so­lu­tions,” he said.

Chen Qiqing, a pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics who joined the school in 2006, said that when prob­lems are iden­ti­fied, it is easy to carry out in-depth stud­ies be­cause one can al­ways find stu­dents with rel­e­vant ex­pe­ri­ence.

One of the top­ics un­der cur­rent scru­tiny is the or house­hold reg­is­tra­tion, sys­tem. In many ar­eas, peo­ple can­not ben­e­fit from so­cial ser­vices if they live in places where they are not reg­is­tered. Dur­ing his re­search, Chen dis­cov­ered that many peo­ple from the coun­try­side are un­able to ob­tain in ur­ban ar­eas and are there­fore ex­cluded from the ben­e­fits sys­tem, even though they have moved to towns to meet the de­mand for work­ers.

In his search for a so­lu­tion, Chen has con­sulted some of his stu­dents who are of­fi­cials at the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity and there­fore well-qual­i­fied to ex­plain re­form of the

sys­tem and the chal­lenges that will pro­duce.

“Party School stu­dents are all of­fi­cials at dif­fer­ent lev­els in dif­fer­ent re­gions and in­dus­tries. If they share their in­sights based on their prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, it helps us teach­ers to un­der­stand the coun­try bet­ter,” he said.

Prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence

Many of the teach­ers also take tem­po­rary posts in grass­roots gov­ern­ments to gain hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence.

Wang Xue­bin, who joined the school in 2010, spent last year work­ing as deputy head of Xi­uwen county, Guizhou prov­ince, be­cause he felt his “lack of prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence hin­dered com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the stu­dents”.

Ini­tially, he was as­signed to take charge of the county’s fi­nan­cial af­fairs of­fice and the to­bacco and weather bu­reaus, in ad­di­tion to as­sist­ing an­other of­fi­cial in over­see­ing cul­tural af­fairs and tourism.

Soon af­ter he took his post, the county or­ga­nized an in­ter­na­tional fes­ti­val ded­i­cated to a renowned philoso­pher known as Bo’an (1472-1529), but the head of lo­cal pub­lic­ity de­part­ment, who was in charge of the event, was hos­pi­tal­ized un­ex­pect­edly. As he has a back­ground in his­tory, Wang was asked to take the job, which in­volved or­ga­niz­ing a fo­rum and an art show.

“Al­though I was in­volved in or­ga­niz­ing meet­ings or fo­rums at univer­sity, I never over­saw any of them. This job was so stress­ful that it felt as though the weight of the world was on my shoul­ders,” he re­called.

Most of the lo­cal of­fi­cials re­garded Wang as a stranger, and doubted his abil­ity to or­ga­nize the event. “It was dif­fi­cult to get any co­op­er­a­tion at the start,” he said, adding that he reg­u­larly worked un­til mid­night.

“It was com­mon to re­ceive more than 100 phone calls a day. Af­ter I got up at 6 am, my phone kept ring­ing.”

His ded­i­ca­tion soon won him the trust of his col­leagues: “They no longer con­sid­ered me a book­worm. I won their re­spect be­cause I was al­ways in the front­line.”

To iden­tify qual­i­fied key­note speak­ers, he read more than 300 pa­pers sub­mit­ted by aca­demics who had ap­plied to join the fo­rum. He was too busy re­hears­ing the event to go to bed the night be­fore it took place.

The fes­ti­val was a suc­cess, so Wang was en­trusted with more tasks, in­clud­ing act­ing as in­terim head of the pub­lic­ity de­part­ment and over­see­ing the lo­cal jus­tice de­part­ment.

He also toured iso­lated ar­eas, mo­bi­liz­ing so­cial funds to help poverty-stricken stu­dents. One, a sec­ond-grader at se­nior high school, had packed his bags and was ready to head out to work when Wang vis­ited to give him 3,000 yuan ($450), which en­abled him to stay at school.


Wang also went to vil­lages to in­spect flood prepa­ra­tions be­fore the rainy sea­son. He said he not only learned in­valu­able lessons in Xi­uwen, but was also in­spired by the cadres.

The head of the lo­cal pub­lic­ity de­part­ment had been di­ag­nosed with can­cer two years be­fore, but she in­sisted on con­tin­u­ing to work.

“Once, I saw her in a cold sweat — she couldn’t even stand up­right while she spoke on the phone. She died in Jan­uary. She was in her 50s, and her child was still in univer­sity, but that wasn’t why she con­tin­ued to work. It was more a sense of ded­i­ca­tion, and she wanted to do her work to the best of her abil­ity,” he re­called.

“Be­fore, I thought I failed to give good lec­tures be­cause my knowl­edge was in­com­plete, but af­ter a year in Xi­uwen I re­al­ized that it was be­cause I didn’t know much about the of­fi­cials’ real world.”

His ex­pe­ri­ence in the county has helped him to un­der­stand the needs of the Party School stu­dents and how they think. In ad­di­tion to prac­ti­cal ex­am­ples, he now in­cludes more ide­ol­ogy and method­ol­ogy re­lated to the poli­cies of the Com­mu­nist Party of China’s Cen­tral Com­mit­tee in his reg­u­lar lec­tures.

Zheng Huan, the po­lit­i­cal science ma­jor, opted to work at the Party School be­cause he be­lieves it of­fers an un­ri­valed en­vi­ron­ment in which to study China and its po­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties.

Last year, as deputy head of Zunyi, a for­mer county which is now a dis­trict in Zunyi city, Guizhou, he par­tic­i­pated in many meet­ings, in­clud­ing one re­lated to the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20). He reg­u­larly vis­ited ru­ral ar­eas to learn about the op­er­a­tions of grass­roots com­mit­tees, which gave him a clear pic­ture of the struc­ture and op­er­a­tions of lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

“The Party at­taches the great­est im­por­tance to the grass­roots. Many lo­cal cadres work very hard, day and night, and even at week­ends. It would be hard to find of­fi­cials as ded­i­cated in other coun­tries,” he said.

Zheng was moved by many of the cadres he met dur­ing his time in the coun­try­side, es­pe­cially Huang Dafa, Party sec­re­tary of Tuan­jie, a vil­lage in Zunyi.

The 82-year-old spent more than a decade lead­ing his fel­low vil­lagers in ef­forts to con­struct an ir­ri­ga­tion canal, with more than 7 kilo­me­ters run­ning across a cliff face.

In Zheng’s opin­ion, China boasts many ex­am­ples of good gov­er­nance, such as the part­ner-as­sis­tance sys­tem, in which de­vel­oped cities pro­vide as­sis­tance to less-de­vel­oped ar­eas.

“I think it’s my duty to do more re­search into the county’s cadre groups and grass­roots po­lit­i­cal prac­tices. Why was the re­form and openingup pol­icy suc­cess­ful? What is the key to the suc­cess of China’s sys­tem of gov­er­nance? I want to find the an­swers to these ques­tions, and show them to the world. Many of China’s ex­pe­ri­ences, for ex­am­ple in poverty al­le­vi­a­tion, could be in­struc­tive to other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.”


From left: Yue Liang, Chen Qiqing, Wang Xue­bin and Li Shaowen at the cam­pus of the Party School in Bei­jing on Fri­day. Yue Liang, teacher at the Party School of the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China in Bei­jing num­ber of phone calls...


Wang Xue­bin de­liv­ers a lec­ture on tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture.

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