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HK supports bill on patriotic education

By Xi Tianqi in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2023-06-29 09:43
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Students from a school in Tung Chung, New Territories, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, kick off a new semester by holding a flag-raising ceremony. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The Hong Kong government and various sectors have voiced strong endorsement for the nation's proposed law to enhance patriotic education, which requires measures to be taken to boost the national identities of people in the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and Taiwan, promote national pride, recognize Chinese culture and safeguard the unity of the nation.

The government will study the provisions of the national draft law on patriotic education and various policy bureaus will make plans to align with the national effort, Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs Alice Mak Mei-kuen revealed on Wednesday.

On Monday, a draft law on patriotic education was submitted to the third session of the 14th National People's Congress Standing Committee for its first reading. The proposed law also sets out requirements for enhancing national identities of the people in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, boosting their national pride and recognition of Chinese culture, and safeguarding the unity of the nation.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday before the Executive Council meeting, Chief Executive of Hong Kong SAR John Lee Ka-chiu said it is necessary to cultivate mainstream values in Hong Kong society that are compatible with the "one country, two systems" principle. He pointed out that Hong Kong has done a lot of work in this field, including strengthening national security education, helping the public understand national policies and encouraging young people to visit Chinese mainland cities.

As to whether the draft will be applied to Hong Kong, Lee said the decision will be made by the NPCSC, as stipulated in Article 18 of the city's Basic Law, after consulting its Basic Law Committee and the SAR government.

In an online media briefing on Wednesday, Starry Lee Wai-king, Hong Kong deputy to the Standing Committee of the 14th National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, who is in Beijing for the third session of the NPCSC, said there is already a foundation for patriotic education in Hong Kong's education system.

She proposed that Hong Kong universities could consider sending students to study or intern at their Greater Bay Area campuses for a semester during their four-year undergraduate program, allowing them to experience the latest developments of the country.

Lee also believes that Hong Kong society needs to have a better understanding of the country's situation, history and system of development.

She added that promoting patriotic education in Hong Kong is only natural and necessary, and she believes that the government will coordinate various departments to systematically promote patriotic education.

Hong Kong's education sector on Tuesday also voiced support for the nation's move.

Wong Kam-leung, headmaster of the HKFEW Wong Cho Bau Secondary School in Tung Chung, said many schools in the city have actively promoted Chinese culture through reciting Chinese articles, and practicing martial arts, calligraphy and painting, which is in line with the requirements of the draft law.

Wong, who is also chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, said he hoped that the Education Bureau would roll out patriotic education textbooks for primary and secondary schools after the draft law was passed. In the meantime, the bureau should guide students to safeguard socialism and the leadership of the Communist Party of China, he said.

Principal Wong Ching-yung of Scientia Secondary School in Ho Man Tin said the draft law provided a legal safeguard for carrying out patriotic education in Hong Kong. Patriotic education in many of the city's schools is still in its infancy, with many focusing on formality and weighing little on effectiveness, Wong added.

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