HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong unveiled controversial guidelines for schools in the Chinese-ruled city that include teaching students as young as six about foreign interference and subversion as part of a new national security curriculum. Beijing imposed the new security law in June 2020 in response to months of often violent anti-government and anti-China protests in 2019, leading the global financial center more firmly on an authoritarian path. The Bureau of Education guidelines, released late Thursday, show Beijing’s plans for a semi-autonomous Hong Kong go beyond stifling dissent and point to social reform to bring its most restless city more in line with the continent ruled by the Communist Party. “National security is of great importance. Teachers should not treat it as a controversial topic to discuss as usual,” the guidelines said. Teachers should “make it clear that safeguarding national security is the responsibility of all nationals and that when it comes to national security, there is no room for debate or compromise.” Primary school children will learn to sing and “respectfully listen” to the national anthem, learn about the police and the People’s Liberation Army as protectors of Hong Kong, as well as the four main offenses of the security law, including the terrorism and secessionism. . In secondary schools, students will learn about the challenges and opportunities facing the Chinese nation on the world stage and what the top four crimes are, which can carry penalties of up to life in prison. Some legal scholars have said that the language of the law is broad and vague, and that the range of activities that authorities could see as potential threats to national security was unclear and fluid. The office said it accepted that international and private schools have different curricula, but said they had a “responsibility to help their students (regardless of ethnicity and nationality) acquire a correct and objective understanding and apprehension of the concept of National security”. Schools must also prevent students and teachers from participating in activities deemed political, such as singing certain songs or shouting slogans. Teachers and principals should inspect bulletin boards and remove books that endanger national security from libraries.
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