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Say 'No' To Brainwashing! Hong Kong Fights Beijing's 'Patriotic Education'

SING TAO (Hong Kong), LIANHE ZAOBAO (Singapore)


HONG KONG - The Chinese political system is one of "progress, selflessness and solidarity." And the "Western" alternative of multiple political parties? Well, that's sure to bring "malignant party struggle, and it's the people who pay..."

Such keen analysis is standard fare from the corridors of China's state apparatus in Beijing. But this "Chinese Model National Conditions Teaching Manual," filled with these subtly penetrating nuggets, has just been sent for the first time by the National Education Center of Hong Kong to all the primary and secondary schools on the former British colony.

While schools on the mainland are used to such language, the manual has ignited a firestorm of protest in Hong Kong, according to Sing Tao daily, a Chinese-language paper on the island. Indeed, 15 years since the handover of Hong Kong to the mainland, protests have been growing about such attempts at "patriotic education."

Of the handbook's 34 pages, 32 of them are written in the kind of language that specialists wryly appreciate as pure Chinese Communist Party propaganda material. It's full of praise and blame in the good old Maoist style.

"The Chinese Communist Party is a progressive, selfless, and united ruling group" whereas "The western countries' alternation of political parties results in a malignant political struggle", the Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao reported.

The handbook also uses the term "Chinese model" particularly favored in recent years by certain academics in China who advocate the mantra that "one-party authoritarianism can help to ensure the Chinese authority's continuity and social stability," reports Sing Tao.

The National Education Center is funded with tens of millions of HK dollars by the Hong Kong Education Bureau. Its main goal is set out as helping us to "understand national conditions and national identity," and has all the hallmarks of acting as a front for the Chinese government's propaganda machine.

Two months ago, in spite of the strong opposition from numerous education groups as well as public opinion, Hong Kong's Education Bureau decided to start introducing "patriotic education," officially called "Moral and National education," from this September in all primary schools and starting from next year in secondary schools.

In the past two years, several parades and sit-ins have been organized over this issue, including one last August and a recent one last May, dubbed the "anti-brainwashing" march. Following these protests and overwhelming criticism from Hong Kong's education professionals, the introduction of this compulsory element of the curriculum has been postponed.

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