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Hong Kong introduces new regulations for schools to impose Beijing's draconian law

ANI | Updated: Feb 07, 2021 21:07 IST

Hong Kong, February 7 (ANI): Hong Kong has introduced new regulations for how schools should operate, months after Beijing imposed the draconian national security law giving authorities powers to further impose crackdowns among the people of the region.
CNN reported that in a circular issued to schools on Thursday, the city's Education Bureau (EDB) said that "as far as national security is concerned, there is no room for debate or compromise."
The new policies are outlined in a series of circulars as well as new teaching materials, including videos, picture books, and graphics, with cartoon Chinese soldiers and local police officers helping students understand their "responsibilities" under the oppressive security law.
They go into "granular detail" over how national security issues "should be taught across a range of subjects" as well as how administrators and teachers should handle discipline issues and failure to respect the new guidelines.
It was reported that both teachers and students who go against the rules face potential censure, with administrators advised to involve the police in the event of "serious" offenses, while books and other materials deemed to be contrary to national security are to be removed from school grounds, though little precise guidance is offered for what materials are covered.
"If an employee is found to have committed any act of disrespecting the country, the school should give appropriate advice or warning, and pay attention to this employee's future performance accordingly," the rules state.
Ip Kin-yuen, a former lawmaker and vice-chairman of the Professional Teachers' Union, criticised the government for announcing the new policies without consulting teachers and parents.
"There is a lot of sensitivity and unpredictability when it comes to national security law education," he said. "It will bring about huge pressure and anxiety among principals and teachers."
Students, both university and high school, were at the forefront of pro-democracy protests which rocked Hong Kong for much of 2019.
During the unrest and in the run-up to the national security law being introduced, many pro-government figures blamed the city's liberal education curriculum, as well as teachers, for supposedly radicalising the city's young people.
In her annual policy address last November, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the city's Beijing-appointed leader, said the 2019 protests had "led many to question again the effectiveness of Hong Kong's education."

"We cannot bear to see that with the infiltration of politics into school campuses, students are drawn into political turbulence or even misled to engage in illegal and violent acts, for which they have to take legal responsibilities that will impact on their lives," Lam said quoted by CNN, adding it was "the shared responsibility of the government, society, education sector and parents to find a way to protect our students."
The American media outlet reported that Kindergartens -- both private and public -- will be forced to instill in their students a greater knowledge of "Chinese history, Chinese culture, and moral education," which the guidelines claim will "gradually build up students' identity as a Chinese and thus lay the foundation for national security education."
Starting from the age of 6, all students in the region will receive new lessons aimed at helping them "understand the country's history and development, the importance of national security, the national flag, national emblem and national anthem."
As per CNN, primary school students will be instructed in singing the national anthem and raising the flag, while older children will discuss the rationale behind the law itself, and the importance of institutions such as the People's Liberation Army.
The international schools are also not being exempted from the new guidelines issued by the Chinese government.
While private educational institutions are not directly under the control of the education bureau, the rules issued on Thursday stated that international and private schools "have the responsibility to help their students (regardless of their ethnicity and nationality) acquire a correct and objective understanding ... of the concept of national security and the National Security Law, as well as the duty to cultivate a law-abiding spirit among their students."
Recently, the UK launched its resettlement program for holders of British Nationals (Overseas) passports, of which there are an estimated 3 million in Hong Kong. Beijing has reacted angrily to the plan and said it will no longer recognise BN(O) documents, but still an estimated 300,000 people are expected to relocate to the UK.
Hong Kongers are also moving to Canada and Australia, where many of them hold dual residency, while several prominent activists and politicians have sought asylum in the UK, Germany and the United States.
"The (exodus) is already happening, especially for families with small kids," opposition lawmaker Lester Shum said last year, as quoted by CNN.
"If I put myself in their shoes, I can understand the fear and the worry that they have about the next generation. Children cannot reasonably have bright prospects or a bright future in Hong Kong, and so in order to protect that ... it is understandable why people want to leave," Shum added.
The American media outlet further reported that Beijing issued new guidelines for "strengthening the work of the Chinese Young Pioneers," (CYP) a Communist Party youth wing which "serves as a school for children to learn about socialism with Chinese characteristics and communism."
"The guideline stressed upholding the Party's leadership over the CYP work, and following the fundamental task of nurturing capable young people who are well-prepared to join the communist cause," according to state news agency Xinhua.
The draconian security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong that criminalises any act of secession (breaking away from China), subversion (undermining the power or authority of the central government), terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, with punishments of up to life in prison. It came into effect from July 1, 2020. (ANI)