See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Is Catchy Song ‘China Is My Home’ Meant to Brainwash Hong Kong's Children?

Screen capture from the children video "China is my home".

Screen capture from the children's music video “China Is My Home”.

China China is my mother
China China is my home
China China is getting stronger
China China I love her

This three-minute children's song, with only four lines that repeat over and over, has parents worried in Hong Kong. It recently made two appearances at a Hong Kong Catholic primary school's weekly assemblies, and some adults see the catchy tune as an attempt to brainwash their children at a time when tensions between Hong Kong and China are high.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China with a high degree of autonomy from the mainland, but Beijing puts tremendous political pressure on Hong Kong to fall in line with its politics. What the Beijing and Hong Kong governments want for the city is often different than what Hong Kongers themselves want — as demonstrated by the recent pro-democracy Occupy Central protests that took over the city's downtown for more than two months. 

In 2012, the Hong Kong government scrapped plans to make “patriotic education”, or so-called “national education” which promotes China, part of the compulsory curriculum in elementary education due to a series of protests. The Hong Kong Education Bureau keeps encouraging the national education program through its funding scheme, however, and many schools have introduced the program either formally in the curriculum or as an extracurricular activity.

In the aftermath of the Occupy Central sit-in, Beijing has urged Hong Kong to relaunch the national education program. Both parent and student activist groups are monitoring the situation for developments.

The principal of the Catholic school admitted that he had showed the music video of “China Is My Home” twice in a month during school assemblies, saying the images in the song fit into the theme of the assembly talks on “piety” and “culture”. He stressed he was unaware of the lyrics of the song and did not force the children to sing.

With only four verses song continuously on a loop, it is hard to imagine that one can be unaware of what the song says.

Some parents from the “National Education Parent Concern Group” on Facebook are drafting a letter to the school and the Catholic Church on the matter.

Mok Chi Wai, a writer for citizen journalism platform, took a closer look at the relationship between members of the Catholic Church and mainland Chinese politics:

香港天主教會中,與香港大環境一樣,實在不乏「愛國」人士。而「愛國」分兩種:愛國民主派以及親共派。所謂愛國民主派,即擁有所謂的大中華意識,認為教徒必定要愛國,要了解國情,幫助國家發展,同時支持民主運動,而或多或少不滿共產黨統治。[…] 他們也喜歡把單純而缺乏思考的「愛國」意識,frame成為道德議題。「中國是我的媽媽」,我們是子女,大家有血緣關係,因此要孝敬。質疑「愛國」就變成不孝、不道德。他們或許自稱是「批判地愛國」,但他們的「批判」,也只流於表面。日講「愛國」夜講「愛國」,卻永遠講不清為何要「愛國」、「愛甚麼國」。[…]



Similar to the political environment in Hong Kong, the Catholic Church also has many patriots. There are two types of patriots: democratic patriots and pro-communist patriots. The democratic patriots have a strong Chinese identity and think that believers should love and understand their country. They should assist the development of the country and support the democratic movement. Some of them are critical of the rule of the Chinese Communist Party. […] They like to put patriotism under the framework of “morality”. That's why “China is my mother” and we are her children — this is family by blood and we have to treat the country with the principle of piety. To question “patriotism” is against the principle and hence immoral. Even though they call themselves “critical patriots”, their critique is superficial. They keep preaching for “patriotism” but never ask why. What exactly do we love about this country?

Another type are the pro-Chinese Communist Party patriots. They not only love the country but also the party. They believe in [President] Xi Jinping and think western criticism of China is out of imperial interest.

Some members of the church avoid talking about politics because they want to preach in mainland China or to support the ties between China and the Vatican. Some of them are sincere and understand the price for keeping silent. They keep a low profile and just concentrate on preaching with a humble heart. They don't offend the ruler but neither do they criticize the protesters. Yet some of them take pride in their work and believe that they are taking the right strategy. They criticize the protesters for their silly fights and believe that “politics” would ruin the opportunity for preaching Christianity.

As pressure increases for making the national education program compulsory, the divide and conflict within the church will also escalate. Can religion and politics really remain separate?

  • Pingback: Occupy Central - Updates & Articles - Page 264 - Hong Kong Forums - GeoExpat.Com()

  • junya

    Not sure why the title of this is a question; the video’s intent does not seem subtle or hidden in any way. Yet, all those images of kids with bulging, glazed eyes is pretty scary. Also, lots of rapid flashing of colors going on in the 20-second segment beginning at 1:11, then again in the 40 seconds beginning at 2:16 until the end. Curiously, the flashing is done in a way that seems to boldly violate the guidelines that followed the 1997 “Pokeman Shock” incident (ō_Senshi_Porygon), with lots of stripes and concentric circles. But I wonder if any consideration was given to the choice of music: the corrupting Western import called “hip-hop”? Hip-hop may be thoroughly commercial now, but its roots are in the attitude of defiance. There is always a segment of children who are moved not by words or images, but by sounds and the spirit it stirs. Social engineering is indeed a delicate art…

  • Someone

    Face it. Hong Kong belongs to China. Fucking Deng shoulda fucking took back Hong Kong without giving them fucking HKers special rights. FUCK THEM !

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site