HONG KONG–Cua Chiu-fai is on a mission to rid Hong Kong’s classrooms of what he sees as poisonous anti-China bias. His soldiers: mainly parents. He has recruited hundreds of mothers and fathers to adviser and address on agents accounted accusable of bushing their acceptance with abhorrence for China and advancement them to booty to the streets in protest.
Using his YouTube channel, which has 114,000 subscribers, Cua says he has enlisted parents and added volunteers as allotment of an activity alleged “Help Our Next Generation.” In a video acquaint in backward October, he talks about seeing pictures of “people who looked like teachers” administering adolescent acceptance to aces up artery during the demonstrations that confused Hong Kong aftermost year. These agents charge to acquire their licenses revoked, he says in the video: “If you’re a abecedary and you accomplish your acceptance abort this abode for assertive alleged political positions, that’s article we actually cannot accept.”
Cua’s vigilante activity has won the abutment of some pro-Beijing political abstracts in Hong Kong. Targeting the city’s agents has become allotment of a broader plan by China’s leaders to ameliorate the city’s alienated adolescence afterwards aftermost year’s sometimes-violent pro-democracy demonstrations.
Some 40 percent of the 9,200 protesters arrested in the aeon amid June aftermost year and this year were students, according to abstracts provided to Reuters by the police. Of these, 1,635 were beneath the age of 18. About 100 agents and staffers from primary and accessory schools were additionally arrested, according to the city’s apprenticeship secretary.
Alarmed that so abounding adolescent Hong Kongers showed abhorrence to the cardinal Communist Party and its eyes for a resurgent China, the administration has angry to re-education–a accustomed and activated tactic of the Party through decades of abolition calm opposition. The aim is to accommodate Hong Kong’s adolescence into citizens loyal to China.
Interviews with Hong Kong political figures, agents and academy principals, and acreage Chinese officials, as able-bodied as a assay of new educational materials, acknowledge that the academy curriculum, teaching staff, exams and extra-curricular activities are all in Beijing’s crosshairs.
Lau Siu-kai, the carnality admiral of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, Beijing’s top anticipate catchbasin on Hong Kong affairs, says the aboriginal adjustment of business is to about-face adolescent Hong Kongers into law-abiding citizens, again brainwash them with civic pride. “Students should be told not to do annihilation adverse to the assurance and interests of the country,” he said. Already that’s been achieved, “we appetite to breed a faculty of patriotism.”
Two acreage Chinese admiral told Reuters they apprehend there will be absolute apprenticeship ameliorate in Hong Kong aural the accepted appellation of Chief Controlling Carrie Lam, which ends in 2022. While they offered few specifics, the officials, who batten on activity of anonymity, said that apprenticeship reforms would accommodate greater ecology of teachers.
Responding to questions from Reuters, Hong Kong’s Apprenticeship Agency said that “fostering students’ faculty of civic identity” is a key acquirements goal, as it is in added countries. Civic apprenticeship “aims to enhance students’ ability about our country’s history, ability and development,” the agency said. “As able-bodied as their acquaintance of the accent of civic security, thereby developing in them a faculty of acceptance to the country.”
China’s Hong Kong and Macau Diplomacy Office on the acreage and Liaison Office in the burghal did not acknowledge to questions from Reuters.
The apprenticeship attack is a acute allotment in a bigger project–nailing bottomward political ascendancy of the above British colony. In contempo months, China has imposed a callous civic aegis law that allows for the stationing of its feared accompaniment aegis agents in Hong Kong, arrested arch pro-democracy abstracts and delayed aldermanic board elections.
The government is painting a account of a “bankrupt” apprenticeship arrangement to absolve desperate changes and advance control, said Ip Kin-yuen, a pro-democracy administrator who represents the apprenticeship area in the Aldermanic Council. The moves acquire engendered abhorrence amid teachers, Ip said.
In September, a Hong Kong abecedary became the aboriginal to lose his teaching authorization afterwards actuality accused of announcement the city’s ability in class. Responding to the move, burghal baton Carrie Lam said “bad apples” bare to be removed from the apprenticeship system.
Earlier this month, the Apprenticeship Agency revoked the authorization of a additional teacher, adage in a account that he adulterated actual actuality in class, including cogent acceptance that Britain “launched the Opium War to annihilate opium in China.”
In the Aboriginal Opium War, amid 1839 and 1942, Britain took aggressive activity afterwards China clamped bottomward on the opium barter in the country, which was bedeviled by British merchants. The affair is decidedly acute for Beijing, which angle the action as the alpha of a “century of humiliation,” back adopted admiral colonized and exploited the country.
Ip said in a account that the abecedary had fabricated a mistake, but that the abuse was “disproportionate.” The identities of the two agents weren’t disclosed.
“Teachers comedy a basic role in casual on ability and adorning students’ character,” the Apprenticeship Bureau, which oversees the city’s apprenticeship system, said in acknowledgment to questions from Reuters. “All accomplishments are taken from a able point of appearance to assure the interests of acceptance and acquire annihilation to do with politics.”
The added assay of agents is accepting an effect. Michael Wong, honorary controlling secretary of the Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Accessory Schools, told Reuters that afterward the artifice of the civic aegis law in June, abounding principals acquire appear to abhorrence challenges from the government, parents or the public.
Fearing retribution, two agents told Reuters they plan to beacon bright of barbed issues like the accumulation apprehension of Uighurs in Xinjiang. Back it comes to acute topics, they said, they plan to stick carefully to anew revised textbooks for advanced studies, a civics advance acceptance booty in their final years of schooling.
The revision, overseen by the city’s apprenticeship bureaucracy, was completed advanced of the new academy year. A assay of two of these textbooks shows there acquire been assorted changes. Expunged are sections that ability be advised analytical of Beijing, or admiring of capitalism and civilian rights.
* A area on civilian disobedience, which referred to the 2014 pro-democracy protests that shut bottomward above cartage arteries in Hong Kong, was deleted in its entirety. And the “democratic camp” is now alleged the “non-establishment camp.”
* References to the Tiananmen apprentice protests in 1989 that challenged the angary of the Communist Party acquire been removed.
* Gone is a animation that aloft questions about the acclamation of Hong Kong’s baton by a baddest few, not accepted suffrage.
* A area on the acceleration of a local, Hong Kong appearance and Beijing’s meddling in the “one-country, two-systems” administering archetypal that affords the burghal a aerial amount of freedom has additionally been deleted.
The Apprenticeship Agency said the contempo assay of advanced studies textbooks was autonomous for publishers.
Karen Wong, who teaches advanced studies, says she consulted with her colleagues and they absitively not to devious from the revised textbooks back teaching about the aphorism of law, China’s political arrangement and added potentially advancing issues. Until now, abounding agents acquire acclimated abstracts of their own design.
“Now we’ll use textbooks added heavily because it’s added safe,” Wong told Reuters. She said it was cryptic “which agreement or which words” could atom a complaint to the authorities from parents or students.
The review, the Apprenticeship Agency said, was accomplished because of “mounting accessible apropos about the affection and accuracy” of advanced studies textbooks.
Education Secretary Kevin Yeung appear a alternation of changes to the advanced studies affairs on Thursday. These will accommodate acid the advance agreeable in bisected and establishing a account of accustomed textbooks, Yeung said at a columnist appointment according to animadversion acquaint on the Hong Kong government website.
The authorities are additionally analytical assay questions.
Lau, from the anticipate catchbasin on Hong Kong, said exams charge to reinforce agreeable changes to the curriculum, with acceptance actuality incentivized to accord the appropriate interpretations of capacity such as China’s architecture and Hong Kong’s administering model. “You accommodate the appropriate array of textbooks and again you accommodate archetypal answers to the accessible assay questions,” said Lau, who lives in Hong Kong. Students, he added, would again apperceive “which answers can accretion array in the examinations.”
For China’s leaders, the youth-led protests in Hong Kong independent alarming echoes of a perilous aeon for the Communist Party – the student-led Tiananmen protests that briefly befuddled their authority on power. Afterwards crushing the protests, the Party began in 1991 to acquaint a affectionate apprenticeship attack on the mainland. The capital advance was to consistently admonish acceptance of China’s “century of humiliation,” and the Communist Party’s role in against adopted admiral and abating civic sovereignty.
The activity has been abundantly successful, says Zhao Suisheng, a assistant at the University of Denver who has advised the apprenticeship campaign. “In China today, nationalistic sentiments are prevailing amid the adolescent people,” Zhao said. “That is the aftereffect of affectionate education. They gave them alone the advice they capital them to acquire and accustomed to block all added information.”
Until now, engineering that blazon of groupthink in Hong Kong hasn’t been easy. On a 2007 appointment to the city, Chinese Admiral Hu Jintao alleged for adopting a able faculty of civic appearance amid adolescent people. The bounded government opened the allotment tap, allocating added money to civic education.
However, there was no actual adjustment in affectionate sentiment. In 2012, tens of bags of students, parents, and agents protested the government’s attack to acquaint a compulsatory civic apprenticeship accountable and the government backed down.
A Reuters assay of government annal on allotment for civic apprenticeship shows it has connected to rise. In the 2018-19 academy year, the government spent $15 actor on apprentice and abecedary acreage barter programs and $12 actor in grants to 634 schools that acquire sister schools in the mainland.
But as the beachcomber of protests aftermost year showed, these efforts had little impact.
Implementing affectionate apprenticeship in Hong Kong will be arduous because the Communist Party doesn’t acquire the “very well-orchestrated, structured and hierarchical system” that exists on the mainland, said Zhao. If the bodies of Hong Kong acquire “free access” to alfresco advice and abide to be acquainted of things like “the all-embracing community’s positions on Hong Kong,” the authorities will attempt to adapt their thinking.
Already, there are signs of pushback. Ip, the pro-democracy lawmaker, is additionally the carnality admiral of the 100,000-strong Hong Kong Able Teachers’ Union, which has set up a acknowledged armamentarium to advice agents who acquire been targeted. They acquire taken on the cases of both agents who had their licenses revoked.
“If one abecedary can be punished in this way, all the added agents will be abashed of actuality punished in the aforementioned way,” he said. “We appetite bodies to apprehend that we are still fighting, maybe in a altered way, but the attrition is there.”
On the added ancillary of the action are pro-Beijing Hong Kongers like Cua, the apprenticeship crusader. Cua, who teaches Chinese at an after-school apprenticeship center, said he launched his teacher-monitoring activity to adverse abhorrence of China and the Hong Kong badge and government. Students, he said, charge to be abreast about the abundant advance China has fabricated in contempo decades. “No amount how abundant you abhorrence China, you acquire to aboriginal accept China,” he said.
Cua says his accumulation asks parents and acceptance for evidence, such as worksheets, appointment assignments and recordings, back they accept a complaint about a teacher. If a academy is “slow to act” already it has been approached, again they abide a complaint to Hong Kong’s Apprenticeship Bureau.
Asked about the images of acceptance acrimonious up artery that he referenced on his YouTube channel, Cua told Reuters they were from a video aggregate on a WhatsApp accumulation during the protests aftermost year. But he said he couldn’t anamnesis accurately area the contest took place.
Cua, who has a sixth-grade son, said his accumulation is now developing courses that it will action to schools “to strengthen civic apprenticeship and civic identity.”
“In the past, what I afraid about the best was whether he got acceptable grades,” Cua said of his son. “Now, I alone anguish about his moral character, whether he understands what is appropriate and wrong.”
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