Published: 22nd November 2021
China directs schools in Hong Kong to sing Chinese national anthem. Here's why it's a red flag
Protests against China's policies in Hong Kong were in full swing between 2019 and 2020 before the pandemic put a break on them
With the aim to promote a sense of Chinese identity among students, a new law requires Hong Kong public schools to raise the Chinese flag and sing China's national anthem, a practice that experts say is "dangerous" and "ineffective".
The new policy aims to "promote national education and help students develop a sense of belonging to the country, an affection for the Chinese people and enhance their sense of national identity," according to a government statement, as quoted by American international broadcaster Voice of America (VOA).
From next year, all public kindergartens and primary and secondary schools in the city will be required to display the national flag on every school day and conduct a flag-raising ceremony with the singing of the national anthem once every week.
Back in June this year, this mandate was announced after the national anthem ordinance took effect. This policy criminalises any act authorities consider "insulting" to the national anthem or the national flag, VOA reported.
This policy is being seen as the government's move to muzzle opposition voices, the report added.
"Some teachers and students don't like the new policy, so we stand, but we don't sing. Singing the national anthem or not is not important -- it's just a ritual. Do you think students grow more pro-China the more times they sing?" the teacher told VOA.
The new school mandates an "indoctrination," said Jan Currie, professor of education at the Murdoch University who wrote a book on Hong Kong's academic freedom.
"The policy ... is the start of trying to make them [students] Chinese citizens in a one-China nation. It is much like what happened in Eastern Europe in the aftermath of WWII, when the Soviets occupied those countries and began to form the youth into communist-believing children and young adults," Currie told VOA by email.
"It is a form of soft indoctrination that begins with things like having the children identify with the flag and the national anthem, and then will encroach on the curriculum to introduce Marxism-Leninism-Maoism," she said.