Thousands of students and others protested the implementation of ‘patriotic education’ in Hong Kong’s schools during the ten-day period before Hong Kong’s Legislative Council election in an attempt to force the cancellation of the planned curriculum which is both controversial and contrary to what many feel is Hong Kong’s spirit of freedom. Among criticisms of the proposed materials are that it glosses over controversial aspects of Chinese history and tries to brainwash students into becoming patriotic mouthpieces for the regime in Beijing.
Ultimately, Hong Kong’s new chief Leung Chun-ying decided not to promote the new curriculum, perhaps bowing to local pressure. Under Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ rule the city has retained a degree of sovereignty since being handed over by the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China in 1997. Though elections are free and other parties can run for seats, it is impossible for any pro-democracy parties to gain a majority of the seats. Even though Leung Chun-ying caved to local pressure in a move that many would consider a sign of the influence and power of the local pro-democracy parties, they ultimately only gained 27 of the 70 available seats.
Not only is a pro-democracy majority impossible, but Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement is somewhat directionless and poorly organized. In contrast, pro-Beijing parties in Hong Kong tend to play up Chinese nationalist sentiment and are well-oiled political machines. The most successful democrats in the elections were those considered somewhat radical, so some on the pro-democracy side have concluded that the answer is become even more radical with more demonstrations in the future.