Page last updated at 09:50 GMT, Tuesday, 1 September 2009 10:50 UK

China pupils told to love nation

By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

Children will have to write down their feelings about the programme

Chinese children are being told that the first lesson they must learn this school year is "love your country".

The ministry of education has produced a special TV programme to encourage patriotism among the nation's youngsters.

It is being broadcast as tens of millions of children head back to their classes after the summer holidays.

The show comes just a few weeks before the People's Republic of China celebrates its 60th anniversary.

National spirit

The education ministry has produced the two-hour special with China Central Television, the country's main state-run broadcaster.

It features stars such as actor Jet Li, Yang Liwei - China's first man into space - and singer Peng Liyuan, the wife of Vice-President Xi Jinping.

The show, called The First Lesson at the Start of School - I love you China, contains interactive sections, speeches and short films.

"We invite all middle and primary schools to ask pupils and parents to watch," said a statement from the education ministry.

Students living in schools with dormitories were being encouraged to watch the programme together.

And afterwards all children - about 160 million - will have to write about it.

The show is part of a series of events being held over the month to develop a "national spirit" among young people.

The programme is being broadcast just a few weeks before the 1 October celebration to mark 60 years since the communists took over China.

A massive event is planned in Beijing's Tiananmen Square that will involve a military parade and a pageant involving 200,000 ordinary people.

The aim is to highlight the country's achievements over the last six decades.

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