A protest banner showing the Chinese Communist flag inside a brain reads, “Oppose moral and national education.”
Hong Kong has backed off from plans to administer “moral and national education” amounting to the “political indoctrination” of children, withdrawing a 2015 deadline for schools to begin teaching the subject.
A crowd of roughly 120,000 protesters who want the proposal to be dropped entirely formed outside the local government’s headquarters in Hong Kong on Friday evening. Many stayed the night. The announcement, intended to appease the crowd, was made Saturday.
“We just want to cancel the whole subject,” a 19-year-old community college student said. “People want to protect our future and our sons’ futures.”
Legislative elections were scheduled for Sunday. Public animosity toward the education plan could hurt pro-Beijing candidates at the polls. Hong Kong officials drafted the plan over the past 10 years to instill patriotic fervor for mainland China.
For the past 10 days, swelling protests against the plan were the latest sign of a new interest in political activism by youths here, and there were some signs that this activism could be spreading in mainland China for the first time since the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
People in their 40s and older had seemed to predominate in many street demonstrations on the mainland, as families kept younger members at home until the past few months for fear that political activism would damage their chances of finding jobs and becoming breadwinners.