Several days ago I posted an account of the distorting effect of the "political" component of Chinese higher ed -- essentially, the need to parrot back parts of Marxist analysis and the dictums of past leaders. This is apart from all the other concerns about the incentives and emphases of the educational and testing system itself, as thrashed out in many postings here.
[For application of political nostrums in an amusing way, see Simon Lewis's recent violent-noir novel Bad Traffic, about a regular non-English-speaking tough-guy Chinese cop who finds himself in England trying to track down his missing daughter. In the middle of gun fights or when wincing after blows to the head, he steadies himself by reciting boilerplate from his political classes. "His ears rang from the [gun] blast and that din added to a sense that he had stepped outside time. He hauled his mind back into the present. The contradiction between the working class and the peasant class in socialist society is resolved by the method of collectivization..."]
Now, from a young Chinese person who has recently graduated from college in Beijing and is headed to grad school in the US, a startling account of another sort of political effect on higher education: the levee en masse of university students to participate in political ceremonies, notably those in October commemorating the founding of the People's Republic in 1949.
ALL freshmen of our school are mandated to join the 60 Anniversary National Day parade. They will be taken to a special training ground set up outside of Beijing where training will continue from early July (after final exams) till Oct. 1st. Those who are tall and fit will be selected to march; those who are not selected will have to be trained as volunteers. Students are threatened by their Party Advisers with not being able to graduate if refuse to join the National Day parade.