Community & Education Hong Kong

Beijing officials in Hong Kong invite principals to discuss Chinese history school subject

Hong Kong principals have been invited to meet the China Liaison Office’s education officials next Tuesday, mostly to discuss the teaching of Chinese history in junior secondary schools, Ming Pao reports.

Hui Chun-lung, principal of the Ju Ching Chu Secondary School in Tuen Mun, told the newspaper that he was invited by other principals and has since invited other Chinese history teachers, though he was unsure if they will attend. Hui – the former head of the Hong Kong Teachers’ Association of Chinese History Education – said he did not receive clear information about the format and location of the meeting.

The China Liaison Office.

The China Liaison Office. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

He said it was not the first time Beijing’s office in the city had reached out to the public over a school subject, since it also made enquiries about Liberal Studies in the past: “They have a department in charge of education, it’s not surprising that they want to learn more, it’s better than just speculating.”

Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s first policy address stated that Chinese history will be an independent compulsory subject at the junior secondary level, starting from the 2018/19 school year. China’s Minister of Education Chen Baosheng has also said that the Hong Kong government has a responsibility to implement national education, and said that the emergence of the Hong Kong independence movement was linked to education.

Unprecedented? 

On Monday, the government also began a second stage of consultation over the revised curriculum for the junior secondary Chinese History subject.

Pro-democracy education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said he has never heard of the Liaison Office enquiring with teachers about a particular subject, and it would not be a big issue if it was only about acquiring information. But he said it would be a problem if there was any intervention.

Chinese history textbooks

Chinese history textbooks. Photo: In-Media.

Tang Fei, a former president of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, said he was surprised by the Liaison Office’s enquiry – the nature of which he had not heard of before. Tang, the principal of Heung To Secondary School in Tseung Kwan O, said that he would have been invited or notified if it was true.

He added that it would not be a problem if the office was simply getting to know the new secondary school academic structure: “It is difficult for them to compare it with the curriculum in the mainland – they cannot fully understand Hong Kong.”

Article 136 of the Basic Law stipulates that the government “shall, on its own, formulate policies on the development and improvement of education, including policies regarding the educational system and its administration, the language of instruction, the allocation of funds, the examination system, the system of academic awards and the recognition of educational qualifications.”

Last week, Patrick Nip – secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs – denied accusations of “brainwashing,” after the Education Bureau encouraged schools to let their students watch a live broadcast of a forum attended by Li Fei on November 16. Li is the deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.

Beijing officials in Hong Kong invite principals to discuss Chinese history school subject