Hong Kong fights China 'brainwashing'

2012-07-31 11:01
AP

AP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Hong Kong - Hong Kong parents are battling plans to introduce lessons praising China's Communist Party rule, saying the curriculum amounts to brainwashing and an attack on the city's cherished freedoms.

Up to 90 000 people, led by stroller-pushing parents and banner-waving children, took to the streets of the semi-autonomous territory on Sunday to denounce "national education", as the subject is officially called.

The issue has been on the city government's agenda since it was handed over from Britain to China in 1997, but a new teaching booklet lauding the "China model" of development has infuriated educators and parents.

"It will poison our children's minds," said 34-year-old office clerk Gordon Chan as he marched with his wife and 9-month-old daughter.

"This is putting politics before education."

Mercury Leung, a 21-year-old university student, said: "Students, especially those in primary schools, are like pieces of white paper. They absorb what is taught in schools.

Third major demonstration

"This subject is akin to painting the paper red."

Sunday's march was the third major demonstration in Hong Kong in the past two months, reflecting growing fears about the extent of Beijing's economic and political influence in the southern Chinese financial centre.

Scores of thousands attended an annual vigil on the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in early June, while on 1 July hundreds of thousands rallied on the 15th anniversary of the handover.

Like many others in Sunday's protest, Chan and Leung said they did not oppose the teaching of Chinese values in Hong Kong's schools, but were against the teaching of Communist Party propaganda.

Concerned parents and students have pointed out that the proposed curriculum fails to properly address upheavals in 20th-century Chinese history, such as the Tiananmen protests and the violent radicalism of the Cultural Revolution.

The 34-page government-sponsored booklet called "China Model" praises the Chinese Communist Party as "progressive, selfless and united".

Compulsory from 2016

China's one-party rule is referred to as a "society-first" and "united" system, and is compared favourably to multi-party democracy as practised in the United States, which is described as inefficient and disruptive.

A section on multi-party politics comes with the headline: "When the parties struggle, there is disaster for the citizens."

The booklet is one small part of the national education curriculum, which was approved last year and will become compulsory for all primary and secondary students from 2016.

Students will attend the classes for one hour a week, but will not be required to sit exams on the subject.

"National education teaches our kids to lie," said Wong Kin, an irate father of three, at a recent public conference where teachers and parents vented their anger at the government's plans.

"There are already courses for Chinese history, Chinese culture and Chinese language, there's no need to teach national education."

Contrasting comments

In response to the protests, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying promised another round of consultation with parents to reassure them that their children would not be subjected to Communist Party indoctrination.

"The government definitely does not have the intention to brainwash," he said on Monday.

"Schools, teachers and educational bodies will have a lot of space, using professional attitudes and using open methods, to teach this subject."

His comments contrast with those of Jiang Yudui, of the pro-Beijing China Civic Education Promotion Association in Hong Kong, who fuelled critics' suspicions when he said brainwashing was justified.

"A brain needs washing if there is a problem, just as clothes need washing if they're dirty, and a kidney needs washing if it's sick," he said ahead of Sunday's demonstration, according to local media.

Hong Kong Institute of Education associate professor Leung Yan Wing said students should be encouraged to think critically.

Openness best defence

"What the Hong Kong people are worried about is that rather than education, students are receiving indoctrination," he said.

Hong Kong's openness was the best defence against mainland propaganda, he added.

"The chance of being indoctrinated will be balanced by an open society," he said.

Read more on:    hong kong  |  china
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy S III 16GB

There are no straight lines in nature. The Samsung  GALAXY...

From R3525.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.