China, goodbye to English at university: nationalism drives away the Asian giant

Xi’an Jiaotong University abolishes the test, applause on social media: “With our development, foreigners should have to learn Chinese”

No more English tests. It is the decision of a large and well-known university in northwestern China. A choice that was very popular judging by the comments on the Asian giant’s social media. Xi’an Jiaotong University (Xjtu) has come under the spotlight, including from CNN, which has decided that students will no longer have to pass the English test (standardised at a national level), or any other English exam, in order to pass graduate from this university in Xi’an.

It happens in the China of Xi Jinping, in power since 2012 (as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and as president since 2013), who has pushed the issue of nationalism. CNN recalls two prohibitions above all for teachers of schools and universities: no Western texts, woe betide anyone talking about “Western values”.

China and English

In the Asian giant, it has been compulsory to study English in primary and secondary schools since 2001, but for two years the authorities have prohibited primary schools in Shanghai from organizing final English exams. The declared motivation is the desire to lighten the study load for students.

In China, the College English Test has existed since 1987. In most universities in the People’s Republic, for years it was necessary to pass it in order to graduate. But, CNN highlights again, in recent years universities have begun to attribute less and less importance to English, often replacing the College English Test with other exams. Until we get to the choice of Xjtu.

Social applause for the initiative

“English is important, but with the development of China, English is no longer important,” a nationalist influencer with six million followers commented on Weibo, convinced that now “foreigners should learn Chinese.” And he got an avalanche of ‘likes’ for another comment that applauds the decision of the Xi’an University. “I hope other universities do the same,” he reads.

A ‘farewell’ to English which contrasts with what is happening in Taiwan, the de facto independent island which Beijing considers a “rebel” province and for which it wants “reunification”. Here the goal is bilingualism by 2030.