There was a strange sight at a school in Hebei province this month: a protest by 400 children against South Korea and its decision to install a controversial US missile defence system.
The Century Star Elementary School put on a rally in which a teacher told the students – all less than 12 years-old – that the missile system was “a fatal threat” to China. Then, in a scene reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution, the teacher asked the students to boycott trips to South Korea and products made by Lotte, the company that provided land for the missile launchers.
“Students, can we do this?” the teacher bellowed, to which can be heard uproarious replies of “Can, can, can”, reports the Financial Times. A video of the event was posted online and aroused a variety of comment. One netizen lamented “such thorough brainwashing” and another described it as crazy to use children as “props to disseminate hatred”. The principal of the school was unrepentant, saying that “patriotic education should start when children are young. The students’ parents support me.”
A spokesman for South Korea’s embassy in Beijing described the incident as “regrettable”. But perhaps equally regrettable for South Koreans was China’s 1-0 victory over his country in a World Cup qualifying match yesterday. The perennially sub-par China soccer squad had only beaten South Korea once in 31 football matches, making this a big upset.