Young people should guard against separatist ideas and learn the correct relationship between the city and the country, Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong said.
The remarks by Zhang Xiaoming, director of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, came after the central government’s third-highest-ranking official, National People’s Congress Chairman Zhang Dejiang, called for the strengthening of national education for young people in Hong Kong last month.
Speaking at the launch on Tuesday of a series of youth programmes organised by Beijing-loyalist groups, Zhang said: “There is a tide of separatist ideas in Hong Kong. As some young people are being misled by these thoughts, I have to stress that there is a need to correctly learn the relation between Hong Kong and the nation”.
He said understanding the nation’s history and culture would help young people capitalise on Hong Kong’s strategic position and realise their ambitions.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the state-run China News Agency, Elsie Leung Oi-sie, the former Hong Kong justice secretary and now vice-chair of the Basic Law Committee, said the mini-constitution had been faced with “new situations and new problems” in recent years.
But she said this was “not surprising” as the Basic Law was still “young”, and that the implementation of the blueprint had been successful over the past 20 years.
“But there are some people who do not understand the Basic Law and there are also some who choose not to understand or accept it,” she said, referring to calls for local independence.
Audrey Low, 14, Diocesan Girls’ School student and YP’s Junior Reporter, disagrees with Zhang’s words and the implementation of national lessons. “There is no clear definition of ‘correct’, as education sector lawmaker, Ip Kin-yuen said. I also think national lessons are probably going to be processed by the Chinese government, and will include subjective and nationalistic content that will steer students into believing certain preferred ideologies.” says Audrey.
Joy Pamnani, 18, a HKU student and YP’s Junior Reporter disagrees, and feels learning the relationship between the two regions should be taught, but only up to a limit. “Learning more about the relationship between Hong Kong and China is fine. So long as it’s focused on understanding the bilateral relationship and discussion in Basic Law or ‘Life and Society’ local secondary school classes, and not forcing opinions on young people,” says Pamnani.
Audrey also feels Hong Kong’s younger generation should analyse the current situation of Hong Kong and consider the feasibility of separatism before impulsively advocating and protesting for these beliefs.
Lyndon Fan Man-hon, 16, a HKUGA College student and another YP’s Junior Reporter, agrees. He feels there should be a balance and care taken in the youth’s beliefs and eduation. “Hong Kong is a part of China, no doubt. But it doesn’t mean we should all love it to death. For example, I feel more of a Hongkonger than Chinese. This doesn’t mean I hate China, it’s just that I feel I belong more to Hong Kong than China. Clearing the concepts of abiding by the law and freedom of speech up are things I think the education system should do,” says Lyndon.