'Baodiao': Differences can be put aside for national interest

Updated: 2012-08-24 06:33

By Yang Sheng(HK Edition)

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The successful landing on the Diaoyu Islands by Hong Kong-based "baodiao" activists on August 15 to reiterate China's sovereignty over the islets sent shockwaves across the globe through all forms of media coverage. Hong Kong residents take great pride in the "baodiao" activists' triumph. Their sense of national identity and of obligation to the nation is too evident to deny. The patriotic move also offers Hong Kong some valuable pointers on introducing the moral and national education (MNE) program in primary and secondary schools.

1. It is necessary to maintain favorable interactions between the government and the people.

The Hong Kong-based "baodiao" activists were able to pull their daring mission off because, first of all, the Marine Police let their vessel sail out of Hong Kong waters. The reason the Marine Police did not stop the activists can be traced back to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who has always supported "baodiao" activities.

The central government has practiced restraint throughout the unfolding drama so far, in accordance with its foreign policy, but it lost no time in demanding the unconditional release of "baodiao" activists and dispatched a Marine Surveillance vessel to escort the "baodiao" ship back to Hong Kong as soon as it was released by the Japanese side.

Meanwhile, the public and the press on the mainland as well as in Hong Kong unanimously expressed overwhelming support for the "baodiao" activists' landing on the Diaoyu Islands. The powerful display of heart and will put enormous pressure on the Japanese government, which quickly let the Hong Kong "baodiao" activists go.

The desirable interaction between the SAR government and patriotic citizens this time not only allowed Hong Kong and local residents to make a significant contribution to the defense of national interest, but also greatly enhanced Hong Kong and local residents' stature in the eye of the entire Chinese nation. This kind of desirable interaction between the government and local residents is also necessary for the introduction of the MNE curriculum in Hong Kong's primary and secondary schools. A mechanism for dialogue and consultation among various political forces should be established, to create a suitable political mood and social conditions for the smooth introduction of the MNE curriculum.

2. Political forces with different stands must reach an understanding.

Hong Kong is a society with a complex political eco-system, where it is very difficult to reach common understanding. However, the attitude Hong Kong showed toward the successful landing of the "baodiao" activists on the Diaoyu Islands demonstrated there is a common understanding - political differences should be put aside so that the all can join efforts to defend our national interests.

Today the Hong Kong society holds many opinions about the content of MNE and the means of delivering the program, rather than whether it should be introduced. Various political forces are no doubt capable of reaching a common understanding by putting their differences aside so that the common denominator acceptable to all can be discovered.

For example, because Hong Kong is divided over the country's political system and the nature of some historical events, the MNE curriculum can focus on introducing the extensive, rich and profound Chinese traditional culture, the magnificent ancient civilization, the beautiful and majestic geo-features, the hard-working and kind-hearted people and brilliant achievements in economic and sci-tech development instead of those controversial details. The widely disputed political issues can wait until the students have formed a deeper sense of belonging with the country and common national identity.

3. It is necessary to maintain a historical perspective and clear vision of the overall trend of development.

The Chinese nation finally surpassed Japan in terms of economic volume after working extremely hard for nearly a century. The balance of national strength favoring Japan over China since the first Sino-Japanese War in 1894 has been reversed. The anxiety and aggressiveness Japan has shown over the Diaoyu Islands suggest it is trying to gain the upper hand before China builds up an overwhelming advantage in terms of economic and military strength. In other words, Japan's aggressiveness is not based on its own strength but rather driven by apprehension.

On the issue of introducing the MNE curriculum in Hong Kong's primary and secondary schools, it is necessary to keep in mind the reality that China is rising and will grow stronger. It is necessary to show the students objectively the real condition of the country and its development prospect so that the younger generation can understand that Hong Kong's development cannot be separated from that of the country, for better or otherwise. Hong Kong and the nation as a whole share the same fate.

The author is a current affairs commentator.

(HK Edition 08/24/2012 page3)