Translator: Joyce123123; Reviewer: Wencheng
The high school visual arts teacher Wong, who drew cartoons to depict the bloody and despairing protests in Hong Kong and shared his work on social media under the pen name @vawongsir, could end up losing his job.
With China’s passing of a new national security law to tighten control over Hong Kong, people there are facing Communist Party’s censorship and crackdowns. One of the greatest threats from this is the intensified pressure on schools and teachers to control students’ minds. History can be distorted through silencing teachers and rewriting textbooks.
A nation’s soul is distilled in education, which according to Ip Kin-yuen, a vice president of the HK Professional Teacher’s Union, is now turned into a tool for controlling people’s mind.
The Chinese Communist Party is using its economy power and the lack of global response due to the coronavirus to further its ambition to rule HK, with the authoritarian agenda to transform education in HK from its roots.
It’s unclear how many teachers have been disciplined or fired. According to Education Bureau, there were 222 complaints about teachers’ misconduct in the past 12 months. 117 of them were substantiated. However, the bureau declined to disclose the nature of the complaints.
Wong was one of the complaints. Yet, he is not alone. Some teachers were denied a new contract due to their role in pro-democracy demonstrations. Teachers are working under a cloud of fear, a fear of being monitored, censored, and punished.
The “One country, two systems” agreement, which guarantees HK’s autonomy, wasn’t expected to end until 2047. But this agreement was no longer compatible with Beijing’s authority. There came the national security law, targeting anyone who opposes the CCP’s will, including media tycoon Jimmy Lai and his sons.
“The Chinese government may be threatening, but it doesn’t excuse the moral failure of the university and intellectuals. When you see your co-workers giving in one by one, it is not just loneliness you feel. It’s heart-wrenching.” said Shiu, one of recently dismissed college educators, who was shun by his former colleagues for fear of angering the government.
Carrie Lam said 3000 of the 7500 people arrested for participating in illegal protests were students. Nearly half of them were under 18. The government believes young people were incited by others or foreign influences. So the government blames the education system, according to Ip.
Beijing has a problem with HK’s liberal education from Britain that gave students “corrupted” mind to lead protests. To prevent repeats of such behavior, teachers are expected to take mandatory training to integrate the national security law into their lessons. Textbooks are being modified –removal of “separation of powers”, freedom of speech or Tiananmen Square massacre or the Cultural Revolution. One group to monitor schools, teachers and learning materials said it hired 800 volunteers, including parents, teachers and students.
Teachers like Brian Chan and Ms. Tang are paralyzed with anxiety about saying the wrong thing. Once the government removes all other information they deem sensitive, the students are successfully brainwashed, said Tang.
Link:emark: this article is a summary of LA Times’ China’s ‘purification’ of classrooms: A new law erases history, silences teaches, rewrites books, written by David Pierson and Rachel Cheung, published on Sept 11, 2020. You may find the original full version at https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-09-11/hong-kong-teacher-purge