The Hong Kong government was yesterday accused of “brainwashing” after it suggested schools broadcast to students a live address by a Beijing official visiting the territory.
It comes as concern grows that Chinese authorities are squeezing the semi-autonomous territory’s freedoms in a range of areas, from politics to media and education.
The Hong Kong Education Bureau said it sent schools information about a seminar on Hong Kong’s Basic Law and invited them to broadcast it, but added that it was voluntary.
Pro-democracy lawmakers said that schools now felt under pressure to show it.
“This is very, very strange. In Hong Kong, we have not had anything like this,” said Hong Kong Legislative Council member Ip Kin-yuen (葉建源), who represents the education sector.
Schools were asked to reply to the government whether they would be broadcasting the event, he said.
“The schools will very naturally feel the pressure from the government,” Ip said.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo (毛孟靜) said it was part of Beijing’s bid to re-educate Hong Kong’s youth in the wake of 2014’s “Umbrella movement” protests calling for political reform and the emergence of an independence movement that wants to see a complete split from China.
“[Chinese authorities] are furious that the Hong Kong young are not patriotic,” Mo said.
“It’s a huge attempt at brainwashing,” she added.
The bureau said the seminar, which is to be held in Hong Kong next month, was part of celebrations marking 20 years since the territory was handed back to China by Britain.
It is to include a 50-minute speech by high-ranking Chinese official Li Fei (李飛) about Hong Kong’s “role and mission” under the Basic Law as a Special Administrative Region of China, local media said.
The bureau told reporters it would “allow schools to decide whether or not to make arrangements for students to watch the live broadcast.”
A proposal to introduce patriotic lessons into schools, known as “national education,” was shelved in 2012 after more than 100,000 protesters rallied against it outside government offices, led by then-15-year-old Joshua Wong (黃之鋒).
However, there are fears in the democracy camp that it is back on the agenda.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) this month announced that teaching Chinese history would be compulsory in secondary schools from next year.
Chinese Minister of Education Chen Baosheng (陳寶生) on Monday said that teachers in Hong Kong “need to love the country first.”
In an interview with Hong Kong broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong, Chen added that Hong Kong needed to reintroduce national education and branded worries about brainwashing as “ignorant.”
ON ALERT: A woman who tested positive for COVID-19 while abroad last year tested negative twice in Taiwan before showing a positive result on Sunday, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported two locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, four imported cases and no deaths. The CECC meanwhile warned nearly 500 people to monitor their health after a woman tested postive. The center also reported that a previous local case — a female worker at Taoyuan International Airport Services (桃園航勤), who had the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 — likely contracted the disease from the same source as a previous imported case from Turkey. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the two local cases were reported in Taipei, and are a
The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense recommended that consumers avoid buying Chinese mobile phones and advised people to throw away the ones they have now after a government report found the devices had built-in censorship capabilities. Flagship phones sold in Europe by China’s smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp (小米) have a built-in ability to detect and censor terms such as “Free Tibet,” “Long live Taiwan independence” or “democracy movement,” Lithuania’s state-run cybersecurity body said on Tuesday. The capability in Xiaomi’s Mi 10T 5G phone software had been turned off for the “European Union region,” but can be turned on remotely at any time,
CLOSED DOORS? The new US rules, which are to be implemented in November, have sparked concern in Taiwan, given its low fully vaccinated coverage rate The US plans to allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who have not received shots. The measures announced on Monday by the White House mark the most sweeping change to US travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people — who would see restrictions relaxed — and unvaccinated people. The new rules would replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the US from certain regions, including Europe. While the move would open the
CLOSE COOPERATION: A House of Representatives bill suggests inviting Taiwan’s navy to participate in the world’s largest international maritime military exercises The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed its annual defense policy bill, which includes provisions recommending that Taiwan be included in next year’s Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) and enhanced cooperation between Taiwan and the US National Guard. The House approved the US$777.9 billion National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 in a 316-113 vote. The 1,390-page bill includes three major provisions related to Taiwan under sections 1243, 1247 and 1248. Section 1248 recommends that the US invite Taiwan’s navy to participate in next year’s RIMPAC. Taiwan has never been invited to participate in the event, which is the world’s largest