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Plans to adopt Chinese civic education into the Hong Kong public school curriculum have sparked protests among residents, who claim it amounts to brainwashing impressionable young minds with pro-mainland propaganda.
More than 90,000 people took to the streets on Sunday against introducing a Moral and National Education subject, according to protest organizers, while police estimated the turnout at 32,000. While the actual content of the curriculum has yet to be determined, guidelines in a booklet distributed by the government's National Education Services Centre to schools have inflamed the controversy.
The booklet, entitled The China Model, includes provocative statements, including that China's ruling party is progressive, selfless and united. It also criticized multi-party systems as bringing disaster to countries such as the United States. The booklet also makes no mention of major events that many view as integral to China's history, such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
Many teachers, parents, and students have interpreted the booklet as a basis for the national education curriculum, which will be introduced in primary schools in September and in secondary schools the following school year.