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Most Important Topic in CCP GaoKao Exam. Must pass with flying colors like Tan Wah Tiu.


Students arrive for the first day of the National College Entrance Examination, or gaokao, in central China’s Wuhan on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

China / Politics

China’s gaokao exam tests grasp of Xi Jinping Thought, so students can ‘understand the power of truth’​

  • Papers adhered to Xi’s ideology and ‘spirit’ of the 20th party congress, testing agency says, as record 12.91 million sit key school-leaving exam
  • Explicit publicising of Xi references in test papers comes amid nationwide campaign for studying his thoughts and promoting them among youth

Vanessa Cai

Vanessa Cai in Shanghai

Published: 6:00am, 11 Jun, 2023

Millions of students sitting China’s make or break school-leaving exams have been tested on President Xi Jinping’s signature political thoughts and quotes, as the ruling Communist Party continues its campaign to promote his doctrines among youth.

The tests, which were spread across a range of subjects, boosted young people’s confidence in China and their support for Xi, so they could “understand the power of truth and master the right way of thinking”, according to the National Education Examinations Authority (NEEA), a Ministry of Education agency tasked with overseeing the college entrance tests.

The compulsory Chinese language papers, for instance, were designed to “rally minds and strength [of the youth]”, the agency said in an article posted on its official WeChat account on Wednesday, as this year’s National College Entrance Examination – or gaokao – began.

The papers adhered to Xi’s political ideology and “the spirit” of the 20th Communist Party congress, and also cited the president’s remarks, the article said.

Subsequent tests on liberal arts subjects such as history and geography were also designed similarly, according to experts from the testing authority.

A record 12.91 million students sat this year’s gaokao, widely considered the most important set of exams in China – a gruelling, all-important gateway to a college and career of choice under the country’s meritocratic system. Most provinces administered the tests over Wednesday and Thursday.

The NEEA is responsible for preparing all gaokao test papers, save those administered in the megacities of Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, where municipal authorities develop their own test papers.

While this was not the first gaokao to incorporate political elements, the NEEA this time sought to more explicitly publicise references in its test papers to Xi’s remarks and the 20th national congress in October, where he won a historical third term as party leader.

This comes amid a nationwide campaign for studying Xi’s thoughts that was launched by the party leadership in late March. A new series of Xi’s selected works has also been published by the state-run People’s Publishing House in recent months.

One of the gaokao essay prompts asked students to reflect on Xi’s remarks made earlier this year and in 2014. It went viral on social media platforms, with many saying the prompts appeared to note the current tensions between China and the United States.

The excerpt included a line from a speech Xi gave at a high-level meeting with overseas political parties in March, which ran: “One will not be seen in a more favourable light by blowing out others’ lamps; nor will they go further by blocking others’ paths.”

Alongside it was another Xi quote from March 2014, when he referenced a Chinese saying: “A single flower does not make spring, while one hundred flowers in full bloom bring spring to the garden.”

In that speech at the Unesco headquarters in Paris, Xi had said: “If there were only one kind of flower in the world, people would find it boring, no matter how beautiful it was.”