News / Asia

Hong Kong Protests Intensify Over Communist Classes for Kids

Thousands of parents and children gathered outside government headquarters across Hong Kong, protesting the launch of a "national education" program in city schools, September 3, 2012. (VOA - I. Broadhead)Thousands of parents and children gathered outside government headquarters across Hong Kong, protesting the launch of a "national education" program in city schools, September 3, 2012. (VOA - I. Broadhead)
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Thousands of parents and children gathered outside government headquarters across Hong Kong, protesting the launch of a "national education" program in city schools, September 3, 2012. (VOA - I. Broadhead)
Thousands of parents and children gathered outside government headquarters across Hong Kong, protesting the launch of a "national education" program in city schools, September 3, 2012. (VOA - I. Broadhead)
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Ivan Broadhead
HONG KONG — In Hong Kong, demonstrations are escalating against the introduction of patriotism classes aimed at teaching school children history and the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party. Residents of the former British colony are fearful implementation of the curriculum signals China's intent to extend its control over the semi-autonomous city.   

The first day of the Hong Kong school year ended Monday with 8,000 parents and children demonstrating outside government headquarters. Dressed head to toe in black, they were protesting the launch of a national education program in city schools.

The curriculum's objectives were outlined in a recent government-funded pamphlet entitled The China Model, which vaunts the Chinese Communist Party, glosses over events, including the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, and describes multi-party democracy as malignant.

Patriotism classes begin

Although not mandatory until 2015, six junior schools began patriotism classes this week. Retired teacher James Hon is one of 10 members of the Alliance against National Education who vow to remain on a hunger strike until the pro-Beijing government cancels what they consider a program to "brainwash" school children.

"With the implementation of a brainwashing curriculum, our children will grow up like those in China who dare not speak their hearts, unable to distinguish right and wrong, who become blind patriots. That is what Hong Kong people are worried about," said Hon.
 
The city's number two administrator, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, disagrees with the criticism. She told a news conference that the curriculum's objectives are commendable and that fears of brainwashing are ill-founded.

"The question cannot be simplified to whether the government is prepared to withdraw this subject. The focus should be to ensure teaching will achieve its desired objective: to nurture our younger generation to have the right attitude toward their family, society, and [to] know about the country," said Lam.

Thousands of parents and children gathered outside government headquarters across Hong Kong, protesting the launch of a "national education" program in city schools, September 3, 2012. (VOA - I. Broadhead)Thousands of parents and children gathered outside government headquarters across Hong Kong, protesting the launch of a "national education" program in city schools, September 3, 2012. (VOA - I. Broadhead)
x
Thousands of parents and children gathered outside government headquarters across Hong Kong, protesting the launch of a "national education" program in city schools, September 3, 2012. (VOA - I. Broadhead)
Thousands of parents and children gathered outside government headquarters across Hong Kong, protesting the launch of a "national education" program in city schools, September 3, 2012. (VOA - I. Broadhead)
Hong Kong residents dissent

Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Under the principle of "One Country, Two Systems," the city's 7 million residents enjoy social and political freedoms unknown elsewhere in China.

Professor Michael DeGolyer, of Hong Kong Baptist University, sees the national education issue affecting legislative elections being held on Sunday in Hong Kong. However, he cannot say whether national education classes could yet be scrapped. He insists the issue goes deeper than just this week's election, raising the specter of the period preceding Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty, when 10 percent of the population moved overseas fearful of life under communist rule.  

"People were willing to take years out of their lives, and families were willing to be split apart in order to get the insurance of a foreign passport, just in case. That fire has been fully re-lit and it is not going to go out," said DeGolyer.

Late Monday night, crowds remained outside the steel skyscraper that is government headquarters. They called for government chief, Leung Chun-ying, to address them. Leung refused; instead inviting protesters Tuesday to join a committee to manage the curriculum’s implementation.

Two years after patriotism classes were first proposed by former government Chief Executive Donald Tsang, ordinary Hong Kong families insist they are prepared for a long battle. Protests in 2003 against similarly unpopular national security legislation ultimately helped topple the city's leadership.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: John
September 22, 2012 11:13 AM
The reality is that the majority of people in HK, like the rest of the world (except those mainland immigrants in USA or Canada, lol), dislike China.

That's why the all-powerful peace-loving China urgently needs to brainwash the little kids now.


by: Anonymous
September 07, 2012 12:38 PM
Autonomous nation? Hong Kong depends on China just about everything so don't see how this is an issue.

In Response

by: Fatima
September 10, 2012 5:34 PM
This is a lesson for all of us.
And a case law precedent on human rights and international law.
It is human rights violation.
It is against international law.
It is unfair to the Communist Party of China.
It is unfair to the Government of the People's Republic of China.
Beijing said they have never ordered this.

In Response

by: Fatima
September 10, 2012 3:11 AM
Now that it is discovered that there are loop-holes in the Hong Kong electoral system that doesn't serve justice or the people, then it simply needs to be changed.

It is not a fair system if it allows certain party to play the system to win. It is not a lottery. Please join us in your prayers. It will make a better world. Our young people will be grateful.

In Response

by: Gabriel
September 07, 2012 8:28 PM
Were you born in Hong Kong? Are you raising kids in Hong Kong?


by: Wangchuk from: NYC
September 06, 2012 12:07 AM
China promised Tibet autonomy in 1951 but today Tibetans have no freedom & live in a police state. China promised Hong Kong autonomy for 50 years in 1997 but slowly & surely they are chipping away at Hong Kong freedoms. China still blocks universal suffrage in Hong Kong even though it is guaranteed under the Basic Law.


by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
September 04, 2012 5:13 PM
I dont understand why they dont move to Canada or Britain if they dont like China? The fact is that most Hongkongers like China. So those few left should leave.

In Response

by: Paul from: HK
September 11, 2012 12:21 AM
Hi Huang, "most Hongkongers like China" is the reason why we stand out to oppose the brainwashing class. The communists have ruined China our motherland, and it is time we opposed the tyranny. We are hoping China our motherland will be liberated from communist rule.

In Response

by: Gabriel
September 07, 2012 8:30 PM
I'm going to quote you "The fact is that most Hongkongers like China."

I did not know this is a fact. Most Hong Kongers like China? And where exactly do you get your facts from?

In Response

by: WwW
September 06, 2012 4:01 AM
Most Hongkongers like China? lol dude are you high? And no not everyone run away from problems, eventually you have to face them. Hong Kong is our home, might not mean the same to you, thus you can write that irresponsible comment of yours.

In Response

by: Fatima
September 05, 2012 10:54 PM
What happens when students start asking questions and teachers reply with full disclosure? It will be counter-productive to the parties concerned. These students and teachers are already doing it on the street. Are you saying the Communist Party of China would like to provide classrooms for them to continue their discussions?

Jokes aside;
o There should be no patriotic education until there is universal suffrage and proper election in Hong Kong to legitimize the action of the Government’s Education Department.
o A government that is not representative cannot force their version of education on the children of Hong Kong opposed by the vast majority of parents (90%) and citizens (75%). It does not matter what the government or governments think.
o There are basic human rights and the rights of parents.
o This education program is also opposed to by the majority of students and teachers. Even our children know that it is wrong and refuse to participate in it and are taking the initiative to defend the dignity of those who come after them.
o It would be a fallacy to teach moral and national education when there is no consensus of a nation.
o The Communist Party of China would agree that it is a dictatorial political party in a nation. And that it is not a nation. So what is the basis of teaching moral and national education based on the idea of a political party and not a nation? The country may yet change and transform. But an ideology may not. Of all things, it would be most dangerous and unfair to the Communist Party of China.
o To force education of objectively incomplete and biased materials on children against the parents’ will by a government that has only 0.014% of suffrage representation is perceived to be insulting to the entire population.
o There are also international laws on protection of children, and as mentioned, rights of parents. And Hong Kong citizens are protected by the Joint Declaration between countries.



In Response

by: Lewis Lauren from: China
September 05, 2012 5:03 AM
I agree with you but I don't think everyone has the means to migrate like you do. Most of them are probably dying to migrate to other countries but they are just not able to. What baffles me though is why most Hong Kongers are so repellent to every policy carried out by Chinese government.

In Response

by: Anonymous
September 04, 2012 10:43 PM
Are you talking? You from Canada or China?

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