Hong Kong frets over "China Model" patriotic education

Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:05am EDT
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By Clarie Lee

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A Chinese book that aims to pave the way for "patriotic education" in Hong Kong and instill a greater sense of identity has unnerved many in this free-wheeling city amid growing concerns over Beijing's influence.

The book, titled "The China Model," has re-ignited debate over what some see as propaganda-style education in Hong Kong, where people are becoming increasingly vocal over controversial issues ranging from human rights to press freedom and pollution.

Much of the 34-page book is devoted to the political system in China, where the ruling party is portrayed as "progressive, altruistic and united", while it says the U.S. political system has "created social turbulence and is harmful to people's livelihood".

The city's National Education Service Centre distributed the book to schools across Hong Kong up to last Friday, just a week after the 15th anniversary of the city's return to Chinese rule on July 1.

Local media reports have criticized the contents of the book, saying it is biased and is aimed at brainwashing Hong Kong students.

"It's all about the good sides of China and it lacks critical discussions," said Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, a political scientist at City University of Hong Kong.

"I'm worried that this kind of national education will slowly and completely erode the values of Hong Kong people."

The book comes at a time when "negative" feelings towards Beijing are at a record high and the number of Hong Kong people who identify themselves as Chinese citizens is at a 13-year low, according to recent polls by the University of Hong Kong.   Continued...