Textbook prompts controversy in Hong Kong

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A NEW Chinese school textbook that aims to pave the way for “patriotic education” in Hong Kong and instill a greater sense of identity is causing consternation in the former British colony 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 US political system has “created social turbulence and is harmful to people’s livelihood”.

The city’s National Education Service Centre has been distributing the book to schools across Hong Kong.

Local media reports have criticised 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 [on issues],” 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 polls by the University of Hong Kong.

“Patriotic education” will be mandatory in all primary and middle schools by 2015.