Hong Kong parents protest China patriotism lessons

Thousands of stroller-pushing Hong Kong parents and activists Sunday protested a plan to introduce national education lessons, slamming it as a bid to brainwash children with Chinese propaganda.

The government has said the subject is important to foster a sense of national pride and belonging, although its bid to start introducing the subject in September and make it compulsory in 2015 has sparked a public outcry.

Organisers said 90,000 demonstrators took part in the noisy protest, which was led by parents and young students. Police put the figure much lower at 32,000.

"As a parent, I'm very angry, this is a blatant brainwashing," mother-of-three Sandra Wong said as she marched in the sweltering heat accompanied by her husband and pushing her two-year-old daughter in a stroller.

"The curriculum only paints a rosy picture about the Communist Party... This is just an attempt to introduce the mainland agenda in Hong Kong schools," she said.

Sunday's protest underscored rising anti-Beijing sentiments, coming weeks after the city's biggest demonstration in nearly a decade, as new leader Leung Chun-ying was sworn in before Chinese President Hu Jintao.

A poll released by the University of Hong Kong last month showed the number of people in the former British colony identifying themselves as citizens of China had plunged to a 13-year-low. More identified themselves as Hong Kongers.

The government has rejected the brainwashing claims and vowed to push ahead with the plan, although it announced the formation of a special committee to monitor the implementation of the subject following the mass protest.

The committee will ensure the subject is taught in a way "to educate our students to have independent thinking, to be able to analyse situations and come to an objective judgement", Chief Secretary Carrie Lam told reporters.

Under the proposal, students would take 50 hours of lessons a year focusing on "building national harmony, identity and unity among individuals". There would be no exams.

"There is nothing wrong with national education but it shouldn't be done in a biased way," high school student Shirley Cheung said at the protest.

"Currently the curriculum makes no mention about issues like the Tiananmen Square crackdown or who is (Chinese dissident) Ai Weiwei, so we are not convinced it can encourage independent thinking," the 17-year-old added.

The protest came after a teaching booklet called "The China Model", which heavily praised China's one-party system, was sent to local schools in recent weeks, further fuelling debates over the lessons.

The plan to introduce national education has been on the government's agenda for years but the fresh push came weeks after the new government led by Leung, seen as pro-Beijing, took office.

Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 as a semi-autonomous territory with its own political and legal system that guarantees civil liberties not seen on the mainland, including freedom of speech and association.

Anti-Beijing protests are a regular fixture in the regional financial centre of seven million people.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • China ignores global outcry vs reclamation
    China ignores global outcry vs reclamation

    On Wednesday, G-7 foreign ministers issued a Declaration on Maritime Security expressing alarm over “unilateral actions, such as large scale land reclamation, which change the status quo and increase tensions” in the region. In their communiqué, which did not specifically mention China, the ministers expressed belief that reclamation activities were meant to “change the status quo” in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, through which 40 percent of global trade passes. …

  • Project NOAH exec receives recognition
    Project NOAH exec receives recognition

    Project NOAH executive director and University of the Philippines professor Mahar Lagmay recently received recognition from the European Geosciences Union (EGU) for his work in disaster risk reduction and mitigation in the Philippines. …

  • Nightclub ban for US troops
    Nightclub ban for US troops

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said yesterday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipino he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will kick off tomorrow the 10-day annual military exercises, according to Capt. Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

  • US-Phl war games to start under China’s shadow
    US-Phl war games to start under China’s shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will kick off tomorrow expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening  defense alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China’s increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Palace defends legal tack in sea row
    Palace defends legal tack in sea row

    There is nothing weak about taking the legal and diplomatic approach to push for the country’s claims in the disputed West Philippine Sea, Malacañang maintained yesterday. On Friday, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares led a rally in front of the Chinese consulate in Makati City to protest China’s massive reclamation activities in the Spratly island group to fortify its presence in the disputed waters. Colmenares also criticized the Philippine government for supposedly not doing enough to defend …

  • Veloso sons urge authorities to save mother from death
    Veloso sons urge authorities to save mother from death

    The sons of Mary Jane Veloso, who is facing execution in Indonesia for drug smuggling, yesterday appealed to government officials to do everything to spare their mother from death. “We love you,” Mark Daniel, 12, said when asked for a message for his mother following a press conference at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. Mark Daniel, an incoming Grade 8 student, reiterated his appeal to those in power to help save his mother from death. His younger brother, …

  • US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow
    US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers on Monday will kick off expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening defence alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China's increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial
    Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said Saturday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipina he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will on Monday kick off 10-day annual military excercises, according to Captain Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options