China graft watchdog monitoring teachers for 'improper' remarks

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's anti-graft watchdog has sent inspectors to universities to monitor teachers for "improper" remarks made in class, a top official was quoted as saying on Wednesday, part of efforts to instil Communist Party rules in education.

Ms Wang Liying, who runs the graft-busting Central Commission for Discipline Inspection's team based at the Education Ministry, said in a statement on the watchdog's website that part of their job was also to enforce political discipline.

Rules that took effect on Jan 1 bar party members from making irresponsible remarks about major policies, or, in other words, criticising them, and it is likely Ms Wang was referring to this.

Her inspectors were mostly on the lookout for problems related to following the party's line and policies, she said.

"We are increasing our supervision and inspection of political discipline," she said.

"We are upping supervision and inspection of certain teachers at colleges and universities and certain improper remarks made in the classroom," she added, without elaborating.

Crackdowns on what academics can say are nothing new in China. Curriculums and speech at universities, in particular, are tightly controlled by the government, fearful of a repeat of the pro-democracy protests in 1989 that were led by students.

In 2013, a liberal Chinese economist who had been an outspoken critic of the party was expelled from the elite Peking University, amid a broader crackdown on dissent begun since President Xi Jinping assumed power three years ago.