China’s State Council on Friday (May 14) introduced a new regulation governing private education in an effort to strengthen the Communist Party’s role in China’s social management. Observers say the move is a start of Beijing’s efforts to overhaul and tighten controls on private capital in science and technology, education and other fields.
The first article of this revised version of the Regulations on the Implementation of the Law on the Promotion of Private Education (the “Regulations”), as it is called, states that private schools should adhere to the leadership of the Communist Party of China. The specific way to implement the leadership of the CPC is that the grassroots organizations of the CPC in the school shall participate in and supervise the major decisions of the school; the composition of the decision-making bodies of the school shall include the heads of the CPC organizations, and the relevant supervisory bodies shall also include representatives of the grassroots organizations of the Party.
The regulations also prohibit any social organizations and individuals from controlling private schools that implement compulsory education and non-profit preschool education through mergers and acquisitions, agreements and other means, and strengthen the supervision of schools run by social organizations with foreign parties as the actual controllers.
The regulations on the issue of high fees for private schools in general also make clear provisions: private schools should adhere to the public welfare of education, private schools and their organizers shall not charge students, parents of students in the name of sponsorship fees or disguised fees associated with enrollment.
This regulation will take effect from September 1 this year.
Primary and secondary education in China was basically government-run during the Maoist era, with some private schools in rural areas where the government was not as strong as it could be. After China’s reform and opening up in the 1980s, private and international capital gradually entered the field of primary education, and a large number of private schools developed in large and medium-sized cities. These schools introduced foreign teaching content, teaching methods, and advanced teaching equipment, and gained the favor of affluent urban residents. They competed to send their children to the expensive, aristocratic international schools.
As U.S.-China relations deteriorate, the Communist Party leadership is deeply troubled by private businesses and private schools straying from Communist control. Since last year, the CCP has been targeting private tech giants such as Alibaba and Tencent in the name of anti-monopoly, bringing these companies under its control through business restructuring, controlling their databases, and imposing heavy fines for violations.
Analysts say that the ongoing overhaul of private schools is part of a larger plan to tighten social control. It is unclear what measures will continue to be introduced and which companies and sectors will be affected by this overhaul. There are already signs that this uncertainty is being transmitted to the stock market through the social media, causing stocks in the education sector to fall sharply.