Hong Kong is celebrating its first “National Safety Education Day” to promote a comprehensive law that Beijing passed on the semi-autonomous area last year.
Children as young as three were among those learning about the national security law, the South China Morning Post reported Thursday, while authorities invited people across the city to “mosaic walls” with messages of support or smiling pictures of themselves in the cultural area to create centers and schools.
Police and other security forces are expected to hold a parade later in the day during which the Chinese military will perform the “goose step”.
The Hong Kong government said Thursday’s events were aimed at creating a “positive national security atmosphere” and deepening city dwellers’ understanding of the national security law, as well as the city’s constitution and mini-constitution.
The widely criticized security legislation, which was introduced in June last year, punishes anything that Beijing regards as subversion, secession, “terrorism” or collusion with foreign armed forces with up to life imprisonment.
Since the law was introduced, more than 100 people have been arrested on charges of undermining national security.
People stand in front of a screen displaying Chinese and Hong Kong flags during a ceremony to mark the National Safety Education Day in Hong Kong, China on April 15, 2021 [Lam Yik/ Reuters]In the run-up to the celebrations, according to media reports, stickers and bookmarks with the words “Maintaining national security, protecting our house” were delivered to schools and kindergartens.
“We hope to give kindergarten students a proper understanding of National Safety Education Day. For example, we are Chinese who live in Hong Kong,” said kindergarten director Nancy Lam Chui-ling South China Post tomorrow.
“National safety law concepts are indeed difficult to teach kindergarten children. So we hope to educate them about positive values when they are young so that they can distinguish between black and white in adulthood, ”she said.
‘Support! Support! Support!’
At the city’s Wong Cho Bau Secondary School, students gathered to raise a flag.
“As Chinese and Hong Kong residents, we have to prepare for the country and make an effort,” said school principal Hui Chun Lung to the students.
Hui emphasized the “stability” of the security law in the city before playing a two-minute video showing various students expressing their support for the law.
The students then lined up to stick “wish cards” on a mosaic wall.
“Supporting the national security law is not an issue. Support! Support! Support! I hope we can be one with the mainland, ”wrote one student.
Several schools also held quizzes and exhibitions on the importance of national security, according to local media.
There were also protests.
The RTHK broadcaster said four pro-democracy activists marched through a central borough demanding universal suffrage, freedom of expression and association.
“We cannot allow the government to dominate what is meant by national security,” protester Chow Hang-tung told reporters. “A nation exists for its people – it does not exist to oppress its people and deprive them of their rights.”
She said Beijing’s actions have undermined academic freedoms and press freedom and forced many people in Hong Kong to either emigrate or go into exile.
“Everything is in decline,” she said, describing the law as a “weapon of mass destruction” for Hong Kong.
Beijing imposed the new law on Hong Kong after anti-government and anti-China protests ravaged the territory and broke out some of the most violent clashes on university campuses. Critics say the legislation restricts rights and freedoms in the former British colony, which was promised a high level of autonomy when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Its supporters in China and Hong Kong say the law restored “order” to the city.
The United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union have sanctioned Chinese and Hong Kong officials over the law and taken measures to reduce democratic representation in the city’s institutions.
China has retaliated with its own sanctions, while Luo Huining, Beijing’s chief representative in Hong Kong, said Thursday that any foreign powers attempting to use the city as farmers will face further countermeasures.
“We will teach a lesson to all foreign forces who want to use Hong Kong as farmers,” Luo said at a National Security Education Day ceremony.