Colin Brazier: Having banished God, China is now teaching its children how to worship Xi Jinping

'In a one-party Marxist state, the people can only be allowed to have one object of devotion. There can be only a solitary road to salvation,' says Colin Brazier

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How many Christians are there in China? Nobody knows for sure. Officially, 44 million. But some say the number could be over 100 million.

Twenty million catholics and 80 million protestants. China’s Communist Party is jealous of these numbers. In a one-party Marxist state, the people can only be allowed to have one object of devotion. There can be only a solitary road to salvation. And today news of how the party goes about brainwashing young minds to that effect.

Having banned sales of the Bible in 2018, the communists are introducing the study of ‘Xi Jinping Thought’. From primary school, all the way through to university, Chinese kids will now follow a new national curriculum – based on what is effectively the Gospel according to the Chinese President.

The change is reported in China’s Global Times, the communist party’s mouthpiece.

The study of “Xi Jinping Thought” means that "Primary schools will focus on cultivating love for the country, the Communist Party of China, and socialism.” The thoughts of Xi Jinping will help “teenagers establish Marxist beliefs.”

And there will also be what is described as an attachment to “national defence.”

Previous Chinese leaders like Deng Xiaoping have come up with their own political ideologies that have been incorporated into the party's constitution.

But before Xi Jinping, only the Chinese communist party founder Mao Zedong – he of the little red book, have had their ideology officially described as “thought.”

It’s an irony that’s been noted from the days of Lenin onwards, that a political creed – communism – that aims to make everyone equal, often leads to the veneration of one man.

In Britain, over centuries, a system has evolved that prevents the exclusive hero-worship of one individual. Our monarch comes closest, but she has no real power. Nobody is teaching British children about “Queen Elizabeth Thought”, any more than Boris Johnson is producing a Little Blue Book to tell impressionable teenagers how to think.

The closest thing we’ve had to a political cult of personality in recent years surrounded Winston Churchill. If you want to understand how different Britain and China are, imagine what would happen to someone who painted ‘racist’ on a statue of Xi Jinping in Beijing.

China is suspicious of any ideology other than its own Marxism with a Chinese face. It has clamped down on the Uighur Muslims and Bhuddist Tibetans as well as Chinese Christians.

What’s alarming is how little this bothers us. Partly that’s a function of how little we know.

I love America, but I wish our culture wasn’t so obsessed with the US. It renders us parochial. As Afghanistan reminds us, America may be a fading power. China is the emerging power. What happens there matters. Not just what happens to our co-religionists, but to all Chinese people and, ultimately it matters to us too.

I’d like to think that eventually the communist party will be toppled by people power. It’s happened before, many times, in other parts of the world. But never before has a state of China’s size, brought together information and surveillance technology, in a way that seems to deny even a glimmer of revolutionary dissent.

Having banished God, China is now teaching its children how to worship Xi Jinping.