I do not think patriotism should be taught in the official curriculum
Unlike other virtues such as honesty, integrity, punctuality, frugality,
patriotism is more or a matter of choice about the extent of love for
your country. Students should definitely be introduced to facts about
history and policy developments so they have a deeper understanding of
their own country. These areas can be dealth with in other subjects such
as national education or liberal studies. But teachers must be neutral
when presenting facts. Political propaganda would not be acceptable.
It is too easy to turn patriotism into jingolism and this would have
a bad influence on students it it was taught to them in the classroom.
I totally agree that citizens should love their country, in good times
and bad. It is like parents' love for their children. But while they
do love them that does not mean they should be uncritical.
Sensible parents would identify the strengths and weaknesses of their
children, make efforts to help them grow and improve and correct their
mistakes along the way. By the same token, sensible and responsible citizens
should admit that every country or government has its flaws which should
not be denied or covered up.
Citizens should be willing to help the country grow and make progress
by praising its achievements and contructively criticising poorly-made
decisions or policies.
Hong Kong frets over "China Model" patriotic education - in which the Chinese ruling party is portrayed as "progressive, altruistic and united" and that the U.S. political system has "created social turbulence and is harmful to people's livelihood"; officials say the introduction of national education helps build "national harmony, identity and unity among individuals" - Reuters (2012/07/11)
Chinese 'patriotic' education draws protesters in Hong Kong - CUHK Adjunct Professor Willy Lam: "one textbook explains how the Communist Party is a progressive, united and effective ruler, comparing it with the U.S. where a two-party system leads to eternal debates and gridlock" plus "no mentioning of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) or the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989" - BusinessWeek (2012/07/29)
Thousands protest China's plans for Hong Kong schools - the curriculum is similar to the so-called patriotic education taught in mainland China in which the Chinese Communist Party is described as "progressive, selfless and united" and the U.S. multiparty systems criticized - New York Times (2012/07/30)
Pink Floyd tops bill in China's education farce - it is risking the little remaining credibility China has with many in Hong Kong, just as it did 10 years ago with a notorious anti-subversion law known as Article 23 - Bloomberg (2012/09/10)
DOZENS OF REASONS TO BE SCARED
Local pro-Beijing legislators, including the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, have either directly
or indirectly rejected or fail to show support for the inclusion of the following major controversies
in the proposed curriculum for national education.
The Cultural Revolution (1966-1976)
- a decade of riots which led to the death of some 500,000 and brought China's economic and education systems
to a virtual halt, leaving illiteracy rates in some provinces to as high as 41% even some 20 years
after the revolution; countless historical relics, artifacts, antiques, books, and paintings
were destroyed by the Red Guards; status of traditional Chinese culture severely damaged, etc.
Tiananmen Square Massacre (June 4th) 1989
- in which the Chinese government was widely condemned for the use of force
against students protesting peacefully; hundreds killed or ran over by tanks yet still officially denied by Beijing as of today.
Issues that cause embarrassment for the ruling party in Beijing,
for instance, human rights issue (few in China knows who Liu Xiao-bo, the winner of
the 2010 Nobel peace prize, is), melamine milk powder scandal, poisonous food,
unethical policies, locking up dissidents in mental hospitals or prisons,
quality issues with public works, unfair trials, prison and child labor,
human organ trafficking, corrupted bureaucrats, forced abortions, forced disappearances,
forced suicides (forced this, forced that, and the list goes on forever)
Even for other less controversial topics, Chinese Communist-style national education
has a record of focusing on unbalanced arguments (biased favourably toward the ruling party).
For instance, material on the construction of the Three Gorges Dam (aka Yangtze River Dam)
focuses mainly on the blessings of the CCP and its contribution to the Chinese people;
ecological, environmental, cultural (e.g. flooding of historical relics),
forced eviction or displacement of people, or any other social ethical issues
are often breezed through briefly, if not totally ignored (source: HK Cable TV news interview).
Colonialism is simply skipped. Success of Hong Kong as a colony under 150 years
of capitalistic British rule is lightly touched, if at all.
Rumour has it that even the former British embassy building in Shanghai was demolished
overnight just to make sure "the shameful past of China (during the early 1900s)
got cleanly wiped from the history of China."
Republic of China, often known simply as Taiwan (controlled by the Nationalists),
is out of discussion as well. Taiwan is only mentioned as a province of China
with no mentioning of its self-elected president, Ma Ying-jeou, as well as its
government, let alone Taiwan's path toward a democractic society.
While China's constitution says that it explicitly allows "freedom of religious belief,"
its practice has actually been seriously questioned.
Advocating Vatican's right to appoint bishops, pledging allegiance
to any foreign figure, including the Pope, is considered rebellious, if not treason.
Tight religious control in the province of Xinjiang, crackdown against Falun Gong adherents,
faith-related violence, the Dalai Lama, Tibetan's government-in-exile, and
even Tibet's 'Snow Lion flag' are all subjects of taboo.
It is even said that the CCP has launched similar
patriotic education campaigns in order to shape new generations of Tibetan Buddhists
to give up on their religion's secular power, turning traditional Tibetan Buddhism into
some kind of a state-sanctioned sect – an obvious cause for the CCP
to force (oh yes, force again) the Dalai Lama on his path of exile.
By the way, according to the Chinese Communist-style national education,
Mao ze-dong, the late CCP leader, has (miraculously) done absolutely nothing wrong
in his entire life. Alexander Pope's words, "To err is human; to forgive, divine",
simply does not apply to any of Mao's deeds in his lifetime.
The CCP, supposingly made up of a group of atheists, surprisingly, dare not say
anything about Mao's forgiving, if any at all.
Given all these restrictions on the content as well as the many strings of terror attached to
such kind of Chinese-style patriotic national education, people of Hong Kong share basically
zero confidence in this type of less-than-wonderful education, particularly when they have seen
those who had been taught this way act to either show their patriotism or air their grievances
in less than civilized manners. Check the facts and you'll see how "harmonious" they are.
In the "Aftermath of the Chinese Embassy bombing" - protesters threw rocks, paint, and eggs at the American embassy, while Ambassador James Sasser and other diplomatic personnel were trapped inside and at one point were burning documents fearing demonstrators would break in - PBS (1999/05/10)
Even after losing a fair game: Chinese riot after Japan win final (in Asian Cup 2004) - set fire to Japanese flags, threw bottles and hurled abuse before riot police made their move; Chinese soccer fans are not very civilized, giving very bad impression to people around the world - CNN (2004/08/08)
Or anti-Japanese demonstrations in 2005: Behind China's anti-Japan riots - rock-throwing, window-smashing, attack diplomatic offices, Japanese electronics shops, Japanese restaurants (ironically, mostly owned by the Chinese), exchange students, anything and anyone associated with Japan - article by Gary Leupp, Monitor.net, dated April 22, 2005.
And most recently: Why China resents Japan, and the US - overturning Toyotas, smashing windows; the rage of China's crowds lies in China's nationalist (or so-called patriotic) ideology; the "Godless" atheistic Chinese Communist Party uses its educational and propaganda systems to socialize (i.e. brainwash) citizens into a particular understanding of history, see also the chronicle on "Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands dispute between Japan and China", Maoist triumphalism has been eclipsed since the mid-1990s by a new "victim narrative" about Chinese suffering - New York Times (2012/08/24)
Oh yes, people in Hong Kong do have lots of good reasons to be worried.
Full of unheard voices on post-its from protesters. Photo courtesy of Helena Yau.
Patriotic and civic education - The index of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) has no entries for country, nation, nationalism, patriotism or race - Sunday Examiner, published by the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church of Hong Kong (2011/10/27)
Contrast this: China's Mo Yan wins Nobel 2012 (for literature) for "hallucinatory realism" - combining "hallucinatory realism" with folk tales, history and contemporary life in China - Reuters (2012/10/11)
- people on the street says, "So a Chinese getting the Nobel prize for literature will increase the national pride." - yes contrast this with Liu Xiao-bo's Nobel 2010 for peace
How did Mo Yan win China's first Nobel Prize in literature? - sounds like a winner: the country faces a yawning gap between the rich and the poor, worsening environment pollution and an aging population - Xinhua News (2012/10/12)
- how about telling the Chinese people the truth that he's really not the first?
Nobel winner Mo urges China dissident's freedom - Mo expressed hope that the imprisoned Chinese winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2010 will be freed, putting a dent in the ruling Communist Party's attempts to burnish its credentials with the latest prize - USA Today (2012/10/12)
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For those you who don't have time
to read all our news excerpts about the Asian island
disputes (links above), you may find the following video,
"The economic impact of a war between Japan and China",
"This trial is another example of the Kremlin's attempts to discourage and delegitimize dissent. It is likely to backfire."
John Dalhuisen, Director of Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Programme
I am proud to announce that
the Commentary.com website is now carrying the technology updates
from Usman Khurshid's Technize.net.
Usman is a network consultant and works in a mixed environment
of Windows and Linux platforms.
He likes to study about the
latest advancements in computer technology and shares his views on his blog.
Oh, please do not get me wrong.
This new section is not about computers, electronics or
any engineering stuff, but rather I am currently constructing
a new corpus based on Spectrum, the monthly publication
from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers USA,
from July 2007 to date. Having been a member for
over 20 years since 1992, I am always fascinated by
some of the terms scientists use when they talk about or
envision their new inventions or methodologies. How many of
them eventually come into practice? Could there be
some insights we could possibly derive, from
the linguistics perspective?
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