HONG KONG – First the colorful visuals: an animation of the Hong Kong skyline, like the opening sequence of a children’s show. Next, a smiling girl and boy appear on the screen, sandwiching a cartoon owl wearing a graduation cap and round glasses. Together they deliver an unusual exhortation.
“Let’s learn about national security!”
So start a Hong Kong government shredder video this week to instill patriotism, loyalty and a strict love for the law in its younger residents.
Over the next seven minutes, the boy and the girl, led by “Uncle Owl”, take a whirlwind tour through the dangers facing Hong Kong, such as terrorism and hostile foreign powers. They discover the forces that protect them from these dangers: the Hong Kong police and, ultimately, the Chinese central government.
“We are still young. How can we contribute to our society and our country? The boy asks, a thought bubble floating above his head.
” I know! We have to obey the law, ”the young girl replies as a light bulb pops up above her with a tinkle.
The video, which officials say is used to teach elementary school students, is part of a larger initiative to revise the school curriculum after months of violent anti-government protests in 2019.
The constituted students nearly 40% of those arrested at the height of the protests, many officials accused teachers of corrupting young minds and turning them against Hong Kong and China. The Education Bureau has pledged to wipe out “black sheep,” especially after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law last June.
Now he has shown how he plans to do it – starting with college students as young as 6.
“A little speechless,” Carson Tsang, a high school student and spokesperson for Hong Kong Ideologist, a student activism group, said of the video, adding that he saw no need to teach students also young national security.
The video was released Thursday night alongside dozen pages guidelines to find out how schools are invited to teach courses on the new National Security Law. The rules state that elementary school students should learn how the People’s Liberation Army protects them and the importance of central government agencies operating directly in the city – a new provision in the law.
Previously, Chinese authorities had largely remained in the background in Hong Kong, a former British colony which was promised a high degree of autonomy when it returned to China in 1997.
High school students will study the peculiarities of law, with national security education grouped together in subjects as broad as biology and geography. Teachers are asked to stress that “the campus is not a place to express political aspirations” and to tell students that “when it comes to national security, there is no room for debate or debate. compromise”.
School officials should call police on students or teachers if a situation becomes “serious,” according to the guidelines. Activities likely to prompt law enforcement intervention include chanting slogans, singing political songs, and wearing clothing with political messages.
“It is certainly not too early to start primary school,” Hong Kong education secretary Kevin Yeung told reporters on Friday. “We can start with simple things. In college, we can continue our studies. “
He continued, “In general, we bring up the concept of national security and hope to train students to consciously take responsibility for maintaining national security.”
Compared to the stern warnings of the guidelines, the video – with its whimsical sound effects, pastel hues, and cute animations – seems approachable, if not sweet. But his message to his young viewers is no less clear about China’s vision for Hong Kong.
The owl begins by asserting that “we all know Hong Kong is an inalienable part of our country” – a rebuttal to activists who have called on Hong Kong to become independent. The owl then beckons to a map of China, with a dotted line also claiming Taiwan and disputed parts of the South China Sea as Chinese territory.
Then the owl describes the crimes that the security law states: Subversion, he says, without defining the term. Terrorism, with explosive dynamite animation. Collusion with a foreign country, illustrated by the silhouette of a person holding bags of money and controlled by strings of puppets.