HONG KONG — First come the colourful visuals: an animation of Hong Kong’s skyline, just like the opening sequence of a youngsters’s present. Then, a grinning lady and boy pop up onscreen, sandwiching a cartoon owl carrying a commencement cap and spherical spectacles. Collectively, they ship an uncommon exhortation.
“Let’s study nationwide safety!”
So begins a chipper video unveiled by the Hong Kong authorities this week to instill patriotism, loyalty and a strict love for the legislation in its youngest residents.
Over the following seven minutes, the boy and lady, led by “Uncle Owl,” take a whirlwind tour via risks going through Hong Kong, reminiscent of terrorism and hostile international powers. They be taught in regards to the forces guarding them from these risks: the Hong Kong police and, in the end, the central Chinese language authorities.
“We’re nonetheless younger. How can we contribute to our society and nation?” the boy asks, a thought bubble floating over his head.
“I do know! We have to be legislation abiding,” the lady responds as a lightweight bulb pops up above her with a ding.
The video, which officers mentioned can be used to show major faculty college students, is a part of a broader push to overtake faculty curriculum after months of fierce antigovernment protests in 2019.
College students made up almost 40 p.c of these arrested throughout the peak of the demonstrations, and plenty of officers accused academics of corrupting younger minds and turning them in opposition to Hong Kong and China. The Schooling Bureau promised to root out “black sheep,” particularly after Beijing imposed a sweeping nationwide safety legislation final June.
Now, it has proven the way it plans to take action — beginning with college students as younger as 6.
“Type of speechless,” Carson Tsang, a highschool pupil and spokesman for Hong Kong Ideologist, a pupil activism group, mentioned of the video, including that he didn’t see the necessity to educate college students that younger about nationwide safety.
The video was launched late Thursday alongside dozens of pages of tips for a way colleges are suggested to supply instruction on the brand new nationwide safety legislation. The foundations specify that elementary faculty college students ought to study how the Individuals’s Liberation Military protects them, and the significance of central authorities companies working instantly within the metropolis — a brand new provision below the legislation.
Beforehand, the Chinese language authorities had remained largely within the background in Hong Kong, a former British colony that was promised a excessive diploma of autonomy when it returned to China in 1997.
Secondary faculty college students will examine the particulars of the legislation, with nationwide safety training bundled into topics as wide-ranging as biology and geography. Academics are informed to emphasise that “the campus will not be a spot for expressing political aspirations,” and to inform college students that “so far as nationwide safety is worried, there is no such thing as a room for debate or compromise.”
College officers ought to name the police on college students or academics if a state of affairs grew to become “grave,” the rules say. Actions that would immediate legislation enforcement intervention embody chanting slogans, singing political songs and carrying clothes with political messages.
“It’s positively not too early to begin from major faculty,” Kevin Yeung, Hong Kong’s training secretary, informed reporters on Friday. “We are able to begin from easy issues first. In center faculty, we will examine additional.”
He continued: “Generally, we’re pointing to the idea of nationwide safety, and hope to coach college students to consciously take up the accountability of upholding nationwide safety.”
In comparison with the strict admonitions of the rules, the video — with its whimsical sound results, pastel hues and cutesy animations — seems approachable, even gentle. However its message for its younger viewers isn’t any much less clear about China’s imaginative and prescient for Hong Kong.
The owl opens by affirming that “everyone knows Hong Kong is an inalienable a part of our nation” — a rebuttal to activists who’ve known as for Hong Kong to grow to be impartial. The owl then gestures to a map of China, with a dotted line additionally claiming Taiwan and contested elements of the South China Sea as Chinese language territory.
Subsequent, the owl outlines the crimes that the safety legislation lays out: Subversion, it says, with out defining the time period. Terrorism, with an animation of exploding dynamite. Collusion with a international nation, which is illustrated by a silhouette of an individual holding cash luggage and being managed by puppet strings.
All through, the soundtrack — vaguely digital, relentlessly upbeat, considerably paying homage to company maintain music — by no means stops.
Later, the owl makes use of phrases that his younger viewers may higher perceive. “Think about if some college students did no matter they wished within the faculty, like skipping courses and working round right here and there,” it suggests. “What would the lesson be like?”
The owl additionally compares the nationwide safety legislation, which defines crimes that might be punished with life sentences, to the expectation that individuals is not going to blast music at night time. “Whereas we’re having fun with rights and freedoms, we should think about the affect on others,” it says. The lady, who has been bobbing fortunately in entrance of audio system, dutifully places on headphones.
On social media, some mocked the video for anticipating elementary faculty college students to grasp phrases reminiscent of inalienable and promulgation. Others nervous that it may nonetheless be extremely efficient.
Mr. Tsang, the coed activist, mentioned younger youngsters who had been uncovered to supplies just like the video wouldn’t be taught to query official narratives.
“Finally, the federal government trains the minds of major college students,” he mentioned, including that academics can be loath to push again for worry of violating the legislation themselves.
Ip Kin-yuen, a former lawmaker who represented the training sector, denounced the rules extra broadly, asking why there had been no public session interval.
Mr. Ip mentioned he was not against the thought of educating college students about nationwide safety. However he mentioned the federal government tips appeared geared toward indoctrination slightly than instruction.
“If we’re going to have nationwide safety training, it needs to be training,” he mentioned. “It needs to be actual, real training that’s for opening up the minds of the scholars, to not suppress them.”