China's Cultural Revolution began in the universities where Mao was able to gain strong support for his vision of radical societal transformation by a focus on two issues: the need to uproot persisting traditional values and patterns, summed up under “the four olds,” and a call to “shatter the shackles of all foreign dogmas” which was clearly directed at prominent Soviet influences in Chinese higher education. This essay briefly summarizes the main characteristics of China's traditional scholarly institutions, then considers the western academic models introduced by foreign missionaries, those selected and implemented by Chinese modernizers and finally the Soviet academic model adopted by Chinese Communist leaders in the fifties. The historical lessons drawn from this overview provide a context for some critical reflection on the ways in which western academic models are once again affecting reforms underway in Chinese higher education since 1978.
KeywordsHigh Education Strong Support Critical Reflection Cultural Revolution Chinese High Education
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