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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora