Hong Kong officials have distanced themselves from the screening of a video of the Nanking Massacre in a primary school that left some children in tears, saying schools are not required to screen such graphic footage.
The clip from a documentary of the 1937 atrocity showed Japanese soldiers killing civilians in the former Chinese capital.
China on Monday marked the 80th anniversary of the massacre that left hundreds of civilians and disarmed soldiers dead.
“While learning history is of paramount importance, how to learn is something that we will defer to the education sector, because we have very well-trained teachers, we have well-run schools,” Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said during a press conference on Tuesday.
The screening of the brutal footage caused some students to cry and sparked complaints from parents, according to local media reports.
Po Leung Kuk Hong Kong Taoist Association Yuen Yuen primary school said it would consider children’s feelings and adjust teaching materials accordingly.
On Tuesday, Ms Lam confirmed that the video was included in a teaching materials checklist and the education department had a duty to inform schools of the materials available in the public domain, but there was no mandate that such footage had to be shown while teaching children about the massacre.
The atrocity lasted from December 1937 to January 1938, with Japanese soldiers engaged in the mass killings and rape in the city.
Hong Kong authorities have included Chinese history as a compulsory subject and indicated that students will also learn about national security, following the implementation of a national security law in the city last year in response to massive anti-government protests.
Ms Lam has also called for the strengthening of so-called patriotic education in schools, amid Beijing’s tightening grip on the city.
Nanking, an ancient Chinese capital 200 miles west of Shanghai, is now commonly known as Nanjing.