The Beijing government just announced a plan to downgrade English learning for Chinese students. English test which used to be a 150 points component of the College Entrance Examination is downgraded to 100 points. Also, English testing is moved out of the National College Entrance Examination. Students can take English tests at local test centers multiple times a year and submit their highest test grade to be used as their English score for college entrance consideration.
Because the entire Chinese education system is fully geared towards the once a year National College Entrance Examination, this change essentially discourage students to spend as much time in English as before.
The move has legitimate rationale: most college graduates in China do not need English in their work. Studying English is a waste of time, which can be better used in learning other more useful skills.
Critics are concerned that the change may further hinder Chinese's capability to communicate with the outside world, which is blocked by the Great Firewall. The next generation Chinese will rely more on Chinese edition of knowledge and facts, which is often subject to surveillance, censorship and propaganda. It is considered more troublesome for kids from poor families, as those from well-off families will learn English no matter what.