Re-education camps for Chinese students | Letters

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Esther Cheo Ying remembers the impact of revolutionary colleges

Re the detention camps in Xinjiang (Internment camps give Uighurs ‘training’, China’s governor says, 17 October), similar camps were established when the communists took over China in 1949 for returning students from the west. They were named revolutionary colleges. My group of students returning from Cambridge and Oxford also became inmates to rid them of bourgeois ideas and western influences. When I met them again a few weeks later the change was astonishing: nationalist pride and willing converts to the new regime. One, a PhD from Oxford, joined the foreign ministry. Another, a professor of linguistics, became head of the foreign language schools. I wasn’t accepted into the revolutionary college because I was regarded as working class by the authorities, and joined the radio station.
Esther Cheo Ying (Samson)

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