World Bulletin/News Desk
The Hong Kong government's move to establish a group to educate local youths on the duties of a Chinese citizen has sparked fears that it will indoctrinate youths with Beijing-style patriotism.
In the wake of least year's “occupy” protests, many see the move as an effort to push Chinese state ideology among youth, guiding them from demands for more democratic freedoms.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Kenneth Chan has claimed that the group would "indoctrinate" young people in patriotism, according to public broadcaster RTHK, while the South China Morning Post described it as a "secretive, military-style organization.”
But the Chinese state-owned People's Daily newspaper defended the group Tuesday, saying giving youngsters more information about China was not brainwashing.
The group is called the Hong Kong Army Cadets and they are linked to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) garrison based in the former British colony, according to local reports.
Membership is open to youngsters over the age of six years and cadets will take an oath committing them to the Chinese motherland and to the service of Hong Kong. That has raised concerns Beijing is working to raise a generation of Chinese patriots in the former British colony following months of large-scale democracy protests.
Dozens of students from universities and secondary schools joined the group at a ceremony Sunday, local reports said.
While pro-Beijing figures argue the PLA’s role in the youth cadet program is harmless, parents are concerned about the Chinese army being involved in the raising of their children. Parents are also worried about the symbolism of the cadets' uniforms -- it's a formal PLA uniform.
The cadets will be trained Chinese style in military marching. Similar youth groups in the city are trained British-style.
The secretary for home affairs, Tsang Tak-sing, denied Monday that the wording of the oath taken at Sunday's inaugural ceremony was intended to brainwash young people, public broadcaster RTHK said.
Tsang added he believed young people in Hong Kong could benefit from training with the PLA.
“The new voluntary uniformed youth group aims to promote civic awareness, a sense of responsibility and rights as Chinese citizens, and personal qualities such as perseverance, self-discipline and leadership among youngsters,” the state-owned China Daily newspaper said earlier.
Some opponents have also said they see the program as a way to cultivate pro-Beijing feeling in a city historically suspicious of the Chinese Communist Party.
Many Chinese fled to Hong Kong to escape persecution during the 1960s and 1970s during the Cultural Revolution, a mass political campaign aiming to ensure loyalty to the founder of the People's Republic of China, Mao Zedong.
Such residents and their families find it difficult to trust Beijing.
Last Mod: 20 Ocak 2015, 15:49