China Brainwashing Hong Kong Children?
From the always-interesting folks at Hidden Harmonies, commenting on Joyce Lau’s article on the
|Thousands in Hong Kong Education Protest|
Hong Kong protests against education in Chinese citizenship in the New York Times:
At a personal level, I can easily imagine Joyce Lau being a friend, and perhaps that may end up being one day. As some of you know, she reads this blog. Her latest article in the New York Times about the recent curriculum protest in Hong Kong over “patriotic” education is tantamount to pushing a British propaganda line. It’s misguided. Her article said nothing about the curriculum itself. It sheds no perspective from the Chinese side.
Through law, the British had already brainwashed Hong Kong citizens long time ago to propagate a friendly narrative towards British colonial rule. Apparently, for some (not all, but the 32k some where the brainwashing succeeded), wearing dirty British laundry has become a desirable fashion worthwhile taking to the streets for. And, sure enough, the expat ‘China’ bloggers will say what the NYT want their readers to think: “ominous, vile and dictatorial.” Let’s see what reader and commenter perspectivehere had to say:
July 29th, 2012 at 12:08
Recently there have been news reports of Hong Kongers who are opposed to the introduction of “national education” in the Hong Kong school system. The media reports that some Hong Kongers fear that national education means “brainwashing”.
See for example, “Thousands in Hong Kong education protest”: “Thousands of Hong Kong parents and their children marched on Sunday against a plan to introduce Chinese national education at local schools, in a show of resistance to official attempts to shape the identity of the former British colony.
Eddie Ng, secretary for education, said on Saturday that Hong Kong would introduce the curriculum aimed at fostering a sense of national identity starting in September and make it compulsory within three years.
“We will do our best to provide a diversified range of teaching materials reflecting multiple points of view,” said Mr Ng, refuting fears national education would amount to brainwashing students about Communist China’s history. “‘Brainwashing’ is against Hong Kong’s core values and that’s something unacceptable to us,” he said.
The government has stressed that the curriculum is intended to bolster students’ knowledge of Chinese current affairs, history and culture.”
“Organisers handed out water along the route to combat the heat, and spirits were high, with demonstrators shouting slogans such as: “We want independent education back! We want critical thinking!” and singing nursery rhymes like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” with anti-national education lyrics. Eva Chan, one of the organisers, said teaching guides for national education contained a pro-Beijing bias that was “terrifying”.”
Given these protests against national education, it is worthwhile to consider what education about China is like in Hong Kong as a result of British colonial rule. For this description, I cite this excellent 2004 essay: “When East Meets West: Nation, Colony, and Hong Kong Women’s Subjectivities in Gender and China Development” by Yuk-Lin Renita Wong. (Professor Wong is on the faculty of York University in Toronto).
“The discourse of East meeting West has become so taken for granted in descriptions of Hong Kong that it serves to conceal the historical processes of British colonialism in forming the identity of the place….
The East meets West discourse resonates strongly with British colonial education policy, which from the 1950s on was designed to construct Hong Kongers as modern Chinese. Having seized Hong Kong in 1841 because of its strategic geographical location – from it, British merchants could trade with China without the restrictions on mobility they experienced in Canton – the British colonial government for decades crafted an education policy intended to produce a bilingual, bicultural elite who could function as middlemen between the British traders in Hong Kong and the merchants and officials of China (Luk, 1991; Ng-Lun, 1984).
When, in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party came to power in China, the colonial government immediately shifted the focus of its education policy to resist communist influence and contain nationalistic fervor in Hong Kong. The Education Ordinance was amended to enable the director of education to block or revoke the registration of any teacher. Worried that this legislation might draw international disapproval, the secretary of state for the colonies considered it important to emphasize that “these measures are being introduced for the defense of democracy and not as an attack on it” (Sweeting,1993:200). Read the rest of this post here..
As always, your comments are welcome and encouraged. Issues like this need more than just one opinion. And do feel free to add links to useful sources and stories!