HONG KONG - Noel Lee likes China's equivalent of the pledge of allegiance — the red flag rising above his school playground to the sound of the Chinese national anthem. But he knows he's in the minority.
At other Hong Kong schools, shaped by 156 years of British colonial rule, students "don't have as strong a sense of belonging to the motherland," he says.
Lee attends Heung To, one of about a dozen "patriotism" schools in Hong Kong that lean toward communist China in their teachings.
The fact that the overwhelming majority of schools have changed little since Britain gave up the colony in 1997 is evidence that China has kept its promise not to reshape Hong Kong in its own image.
But "patriot" has become a code word for those who think allegiance to China's way is more important than Western-style democracy. The debate has sharpened lately with pronouncements from Beijing and its Hong Kong allies that the territory needs China's permission to broaden its limited democracy, that only "patriots" should be allowed to run Hong Kong, and that its leading democrats are "unpatriotic."
Some think the problem is that Hong Kong kids aren't getting enough patriotism in the classroom.