The hurricane of the three new character classics: Bottom-up development of moral education in China

Wing On LEE, Chi Hang HO

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The adoption of the reform and open policy in the Third Plenum of the Eleventh CCP Central Committee held in 1978 marked the beginning of a new age of ideological development in China. Deng Xiaoping’s visit to South China in 1992 on one hand assured further economic liberalization from the aftermath of the June 4 Incident (1989) but, on the other hand, led to great economic and social impacts on the society. In 1995, three years after Deng’s visit to South China, a new wave of moral education text development took place in Guangdong. The New three character classic (Xin sanjijing) (Editorial Committee, 1995), an adaptation of the traditional Three character classic used as literary text 500 years ago, was published by Guangdong Education Press. Since then, various versions of the new three character classic have appeared in Beijing and Shanghai. Among the different versions published, the Guangdong version recorded the highest turnover, with about 40 million copies sold throughout China, and it became one of the ‘top ten news items’ in Guangdong province in 1995 and was thus described as a “Hurricane of the Three New Character Classics”. The paper reports on the development of moral rhyme literature, as characterized by The Three New Character Classics, and investigates its features and implications on the development of moral education in China in a reform and opening up period.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


social impact
economic impact


Lee, W. O., & Ho, C. H. (2009, June). The hurricane of the three new character classics: Bottom-up development of moral education in China. Paper presented at the 5th CITIZED International Conference: Globalising Citizenship Education: Ambitions and Realities, Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.