A pro-China lawmaker in Hong Kong suggested placing CCTV cameras inside schools Friday to ensure teachers are not making subversive remarks in lessons.
The comments were made by Tommy Cheung, the chairman of the Hong Kong Liberal Party, during a panel discussion on the development of textbooks and other materials for use in schools.
Cheung, whose party supports China’s increasing interference in the region on the grounds it will improve the economy, argued CCTV cameras were necessary because pro-democracy activists were bringing politics into schools and risking “subversion” against the Chinese state.
Under the new “national security” law imposed by China on the supposedly autonomous region this week, any activity seen as undermining Beijing’s interests will be considered a criminal offense punishable by a minimum of ten years in prison.
“I think we should install CCTV because there’s nothing about privacy here; we should be able to record the lessons given by teachers so you can check on them any time, and then you can see whether teachers are bringing politics into their teaching and whether they’re trying to advocate subversion and so on,” said Cheung.
“Even if you ask school principals or school management to do inspections, teachers can just switch to an entirely different subject as soon as they see you coming,” he continued.
Members of the similarly pro-China party Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) backed Cheung’s arguments. Ann Chiang, a DAB lawmaker, slammed the Education Bureau as “cowardly” for not imposing stricter monitoring on schools to protect pupils from “being instilled with hatred.”
DAB’s Elizabeth Quat echoed the sentiment, claiming that many parents have complained to her about teaching materials supposedly inciting hatred against the police and should, therefore, be examined by an independent panel.
Such arguments are a demonstration of how China and its allies plan on tightening their authoritarian grip over the region in violation of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy agreed to by China following the handover of Hong Kong in 1997 by the United Kingdom. The issue of Hong Kong’s sovereignty has consequently been the subject of worldwide concern over the past decade, as millions of people have taken to the streets in support of their right to democracy and self-determination.
On Wednesday, citizens defied a ban imposed by the city’s authorities on the annual July 1 pro-democracy march for the first time since 2003 by once again demonstrating on masse. The protests led to violent clashes between civilians and security forces, as police used water cannons and pepper spray to repel dissidents. Law enforcement also made hundreds of arrests, some of which were under the new security law for crimes including “secession, subversion, and terrorism.”