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Richmond high school cancels assignment after criticism it promotes pro-China propaganda

This photo, shared on a Facebook group, shows an assignment given to a Mandarin class at Steveston-London Secondary School. (Source: Facebook/CanadaHongKonger)

The assignment involved answering a number of "reflection questions" about the movie

A picture of some of the questions was shared on Facebook by a pro-Hong Kong Facebook group

RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) – A Richmond high school has axed an assignment after a picture of it was shared on social media, prompting criticism it amounts to brainwashing and pro-China propaganda.

The assignment, given to Grade 10, 11, and 12 Mandarin classes at Steveston-London Secondary School, revolved around the movie “My People, My Country,” which was released last month to commemorate 70 years of the People’s Republic of China. The movie focuses on seven memorial moments since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China and is described as “a gift to every Chinese person living in the country and overseas.”

The assignment involved answering a number of “reflection questions” about the movie. A picture of some of the questions was shared on Facebook by a pro-Hong Kong Facebook group, which suggested students were shown the whole movie. The group asked those reading the post to complain to the school board.

One question in particular, “What words or phrases in the Movie made you feel good?” sparked controversy and debate online, with some arguing it was forcing students to feel a certain way and advocated a pro-China agenda.

But Principal Carol-Lyn Sakata says the assignment sheet was misleading and students were only shown trailers of the movie, not the full film.

In a letter sent to parents and guardians on Thursday, Sakata said some study of China’s history and culture are a part of the learning outcomes for Mandarin language courses and four of seven film trailers were shown to highlight historical events and cultures. She added the assignment sheet, meant to prompt oral discussion and handed out earlier this week, was from a template the teacher uses for some assignments and not specific to the one involving “My People, My Country.”

Sakata added that with the current political unrest in Hong Kong she understands concerns and the oral assessment of the assignment would not be continued.