China's Propaganda War To Brainwash School Children in Hong Kong

by Swarajya Staff - Jun 23, 2022 07:06 PM +05:30 IST
China's Propaganda War To Brainwash School Children in Hong KongA Street in Hong Kong

The Chinese government is editing school books in Hong Kong and removing 'unacceptable' books from the school curriculum.

Context: CCP has now advanced on its promise of integrating Hong Kong with the mainland Chinese system.

  • The existing system of education is being changed as several pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have been attributed to what's being taught as part of the curriculum.

  • The ongoing overhaul has the approval of Chinese President Xi Jinping himself. He noted its utility in "maintaining social stability in Hong Kong".

Significant addition/removal: Observers believe that this is CCP's attempt to prevent the youth of Hong Kong from being politically engaged, to hollow out the aspiration for freedom and democracy.

  • Books that have any mention of democracy, self-determination, the agreement of 1984, and elections in Hong Kong have been axed.

  • More than 200 such titles have been removed from school libraries.

  • An autobiography of Wang Lingyun has also been removed. Wang Lingyun was the mother of 1989 student protest leader Wang Dan.

  • All books related to the 1989 pro-democracy protests have been removed.

  • The revamped curriculum includes books that hail China and dismiss Hong Kong's colonial past as inaccurate.

What China is wary of: In the past, several pro-democracy protests have rocked Hong Kong in which CCP's policies were openly criticised.

  • The 2011 campaigns against "patriotic education" by secondary school students.

  • The 2014 youth-led Umbrella movement.

  • The 2019 protests began as a campaign against extradition law and grew into a movement that demanded democratic elections.

Views of CCP: An opinion piece published in the CCP-backed Ta Kung Pao in 2020 gives some hints.

  • The article refuses to recognise British sovereignty over Hong Kong Island.

  • It claims that the colonial status of Hong Kong was "wishful thinking" on the part the British.

  • The article argues that the removal of Hong Kong, from the UN list of colonies implied that Hong Kong wasn't eligible for independence like other former colonies.

  • This is part of CCP's new nationalist education programme in Hong Kong.

The history of Hong Kong: Hong Kong was a British colony from 1841 until its handover to Chinese rule in 1997. The Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945 was the exception.

  • Hong Kong's colonial status was the result of a pair of nineteenth-century treaties. These treaties were signed at the end of the first and second Opium Wars.

  • In 1898, as per its lease agreement, it was decided that Britain was to hold on to its colony for 99 years after which the lease would be re-negotiated.

  • China’s Communist Party, which seized power in 1949, says it never recognised what it calls the “unequal treaties”.

  • In the late twentieth century — China was unwilling to extend the lease on the 'New Territories'.

  • As a result, Britain entered into protracted and contentious negotiations with Beijing over conditions for the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule.

  • As per the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed in 1984, China would take control of Hong Kong under a “one country, two systems" arrangement.

  • This arrangement was meant to keep the city's economic, political and judicial systems distinct from those in mainland China for 50 years -starting from 1997.

  • China now refuses to recognize the agreement.

Future of civil liberty in Hong Kong: With the new national security law, freedom of expression and the right to protest has been nullified. With the CCP doubling down on removing any vestiges of democracy from Hong Kong, the future of civil liberties looks grim.

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