Defending Diaoyu Islands good case for national education

Updated: 2012-08-23 06:34

By Eddy Li(HK Edition)

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On Aug 12, a group of activists composed of Diaoyu Islands defenders from Hong Kong, Macao and the mainland set sail on the Kai Fung No 2 from Hong Kong for the islands. The activists broke through the blockade of Japanese naval vessels and police helicopters and finally succeeded in landing on the islands. They waved the five-star red flag in the air to declare Chinese sovereignty. When they were later held in custody by the Japanese government, they sang the national anthem together and shouted slogans of "Return us our Diaoyu Islands!", "We will be back!", etc. These scenes resonated among Chinese people all over the world.

The action aimed at defending Chinese sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands raised the profile of the territorial dispute, not only in Hong Kong, but also in the greater China region, including the mainland, Macao and Taiwan. On the mainland alone, there were spontaneous demonstrations in many cities, and protests at Japanese consulates. At the moment, a nationwide campaign for defending the Diaoyu Islands is on the move.

The movement was launched back in the 1970s. Through many ups and downs, it has survived for 40 years. The success of this year's landing does not necessarily indicate final victory over sovereignty of the islands; however, it is a good lesson for national education.

Defending Diaoyu Islands good case for national education

Actually, the movement to defend the Diaoyu Islands should be regarded as a teaching material for national education, given that cultivating the sense of national pride is of greatest significance for the program. National dignity is not to be insulted. Other conflicts aside, people are supposed to stand up on behalf of the country and act together for a common cause - no matter what his political inclination or his opinion of the government are. This is the fundamental part of national education as well as a core value that is universally recognized.

From my point of view, the Hong Kong SAR government should take advantage of the developments to teach children about the issue, telling them when the dispute started and how the controversy came into being. To be more precise, the Education Bureau, teachers and parents share a good opportunity to work together to explain the whole detailed story to the kids from various analyzing angles.

Students, therefore, are fully exposed to the factors that caused the Diaoyu Islands issue, such as the geographic environment, historical factors, political status, military strategic positioning, international diplomatic relations, economic advantages, and so on... The information is an excellent resource for helping to open children's minds. They can discuss with their friends why for the past 40 years, some Hong Kong people have endeavored to land on the Diaoyu Islands regardless of dangers and risks. And what is more precious is that students will form their own opinions on the issue, the meaning of the movement and the thinking of the activists who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause.

"The Chinese people are from a nation with spirit. Therefore, when it comes to the important issues related to the country's sovereignty, national unity and territorial integrity, we make no compromise. This is true not only for now, but also for the old times when we were poor. The Chinese have an inherent unyielding quality."

This is what Premier Wen Jiabao said in September 2010, when he urged the Japanese government to release the Chinese captain Zhan Qixiong who was held in detention after he was arrested in the waters off the Diaoyu Islands. The strong speech made by Premier Wen, in my opinion, is exactly what we want our children to understand as part of their national education.

The author is vice-president of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong.

(HK Edition 08/23/2012 page3)