China: Student Informant System to Expand, Limiting School Autonomy, Free Expression

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on January 24, 2011

Via FAS: China: Student Informant System to Expand, Limiting School Autonomy, Free Expression (U//FOUO – “Unclassified // For Official Use Only”)- 23 November 2010, CIA-DI-10-05021 [This report was prepared by the Open Source Works, which was charged by the Director for Intelligence with drawing on language trained analysts to mine open-source information for new or alternative insights on intelligence issues.]

  • Chinese educators and Communist Party officials are expanding the student informant system (SIS) to a growing number of Chinese universities, colleges, vocational institutes, and lower level schools. Students designated as student-informants, who report to an academic affairs department, engage in political spying on both professors and fellow students and denounce professors and students for politically subversive or unconventional views. (U//FOUO) The principal objective of the SIS is to ensure campus stability and to control the debate and discussion of politically sensitive issues. Students have had their scholarships revoked and their academic records penalized because of information provided by student informants that is sometimes highly subjective, such as facial expressions. Since 2002, the SIS has added a separate, secret system of student informants who report to university security departments. (U//FOUO) Despite some teacher and student resistance, the government appears determined to continue to use the SIS as a tool to ensure political stability on Chinese campuses, as evidenced by government studies touting its utility and effectiveness for improving education. The limited public debate on the SIS focuses on its impact on freedom of speech, the risk of spreading a culture of denunciation, and the harm the system does to cultivating talented students. (U//FOUO)”
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