News / Asia

Hong Kong Protest Targets Propaganda in Schools

Marches in Hong Kong on Sunday, July 29, 2012 protest Beijing-approved "national education" plans.Marches in Hong Kong on Sunday, July 29, 2012 protest Beijing-approved "national education" plans.
x
Marches in Hong Kong on Sunday, July 29, 2012 protest Beijing-approved "national education" plans.
Marches in Hong Kong on Sunday, July 29, 2012 protest Beijing-approved "national education" plans.
Terry Wing
Hong Kong’s chief executive says the government will move ahead with its plan to implement a “national education” school curriculum, despite protests calling the Beijing-encouraged policy “brainwashing.”

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has offered more consultations with parents after as many as 90,000 people protested against the plans on Sunday. But he has ruled out any delays in rolling out the policy, which requires all primary and secondary schools to teach mandatory civic education classes by 2016. 

Leung’s message is that  the central government would like to strengthen Hong Kong’s sense of identification with China through this project. 

Suspicions over government motives

Despite government assurances, many teachers and parents are concerned the curriculum would force the schools to teach Chinese communist propaganda.

“Behind these protests, there is deep suspicion about what the Hong Kong government and, in fact, the central government want to do,” said  Joseph Cheng of Hong Kong University.

Sunday’s protest is the latest sign of growing public discontent with Beijing's perceived interference in city affairs, 15 years after it reverted to China from British control.

“The people’s hearts have not returned,“ according to Cheng.  He cites a survey last week by the University of Hong Kong that found only 12% of respondents polled want the curriculum implemented on schedule, while 52% want it shelved and 30% have no opinion.

The government wants elementary schools to adopt the classes on a voluntary basis for a three-year trial period before making them compulsory in 2015.
 
Hong Kong’s deputy leader, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, responded to Sunday's protest by announcing the formation of a committee to monitor the implementation of the classes. 
 
Civics or propaganda?

Lam counters concerns about the curriculum as propaganda.  Instead, she says students would be educated to have independent thought, to be able to analyze situations and come to objective conclusions following the courses.

“I’m sure she really means what she says,” said Christine Loh,  chief executive officer of the Hong Kong-based research group, Civic Exchange.

The debate, according to Loh, is more about who will write the curriculum.  She says some schools believe they can write their own curriculum, that they don’t need the government to do it. 

“A number of schools have spoken out to say they have strong values.  They feel they should be able to decide what curriculum they are going to teach,” said Loh.

The real issue is the matter of trust.  According to the University of Hong Kong’s Cheng, the protests are an expression about a growing concern with China’s influence in Hong Kong’s affairs.

“Hong Kong’s people are not happy with the blatent interference by the central authorities during the election of the chief executive in March of this year,” Cheng said.

He says that concern also extends to a perception that a pro-Beijing attitude is becoming more evident in Hong Kong’s media.

“There’s a perception that the central authorities are not happy with the radio and television of Hong Kong,” Cheng said.   “The result is that there has been increased self-censorship the media’s criticism of the government,” said Cheng.

Hong Kong's democratic tradition

Loh says the protest movement in Hong Kong has the potential to be sustained and that the government will have to deal with its effects.

“I think the issue of democracy has never really left Hong Kong.  People have always had the sense that they could choose their own government,” said Loh.

Trusting Hong Kong’s leaders, and as an extension, Beijing’s leaders on the matter of school curriculum goes to a bigger question. 

“I think everybody understands that because Hong Kong is a part of China, the direction and timetable for democratic reform is dependent on Beijing’s support,” said Loh.

Cheung doesn't expect such massive protests to become routine in Kong Kong.  He said legislative council elections are scheduled September 9, and voter discontent may be manifested in that election.

Victor Beattie contributed to this report. 

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces a Chaotic World and the Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid