Tens of thousands of students, teachers and parents were out on the streets in Hong Kong on Sunday, protesting against Chinese patriotism classes.
The public and pro-democracy activists say that these classes will brainwash children into supporting China's Communist Party.
Protesters carried banners and placards, and shouted slogans, calling for the Chinese government to withdraw its plan.
Some of the placards used lyrics from the Pink Floyd song “Another Brick in the Wall,” and a group of parents and their children waved posters reading, “We don’t need no thought control. Leave them kids alone.”
Others carried banners reading, “Our previous generations came here to escape the Communist Party, don’t let the next generation return to the grip of the demon.”
Video screen capture
Protest against the new education system in Hong Kong, July 29, 2012.
While the government's decision to introduce the new Moral and National Education curriculum sparked concerns amongst the public, authority claim that the classes are merely aimed at building Chinese national pride.
Hong Kong's Secretary of Education, Eddie Ng said on Sunday, “Brainwashing is against Hong Kong’s core values. We would not support or accept that.”
However, Hong Kong's residents see this move as yet another attempt by China to limit democracy in the semi-autonomous territory.
Anger was shown over a new government-funded textbook, “The China Model.” The text, which was prepared by a pro-Beijing organization, describes the Communist Party as “selfless and united” and presents it as "an indispensable agent for stability and success."
P.S. Ho, who protested along with his wife and four-year-old daughter told media, "We don't want our child to be fed this material. If the initiative continues without changes, maybe we will change schools later or immigrate to another country."
The protest kicked off from Victoria Park, and then blocked off parts of the Causeway Bay commercial area as they headed towards the new government headquarters in the city center.
Hong Kong's public broadcaster, RTHK, was told by organizers that 90,000 people turned out for the protest. However the police say the figure was more like 32,000.
Digital Journal reported on a protest in Hong Kong on July 1, over the city's new leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, chosen by an elite pro-Beijing committee and widely suspected of having close ties to the Communist Party.
Hong Kong was previously a British colony, and 15 years ago, China recovered sovereignty of the territory, which is now becoming increasingly dependent on mainland China. However, according to a recent opinion poll by Hong Kong University, residents in Hong Kong now have less trust in the central government in Beijing than at any time since the 1997 handover.