Thursday, 8 January 2015

Here We Go Again Part II

China adviser on HK affairs Rao Geping says its time for national education
The touchy subject of national education has come up again post-Occupy and now with the second round of public consultation over political reform with regards to universal suffrage.

A Basic Law Committee member has suggested the Hong Kong government should try to introduce national education again into the school system with greater emphasis on Chinese culture rather than ideology.

Rao Geping, a mainland law professor who advises Beijing on Hong Kong affairs says the local government should do more to remove the legacy of its colonial past to ward off anti-mainland sentiment among young people.

"Hong Kong hasn't done ideally in educating its youth about how to adapt its status under 'one country, two systems'," he said at a two-day forum in Beijing hosted by the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies on the political implications of the city's education.

"Many young people haven't been able to get used to the fact that Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. They grew up with a lack of national education, coupled with sentiments against the Communist Party of China, which has led to some of them being on the political front line.

"I think national education should be introduced again, but with an emphasis put on Chinese history and culture, but not ideology. We should have it in schools."

He added there were contradictions between the education system that Hong Kong inherited from colonial days and the one it should have as part of China -- so young people should be taught about "decolonization".

Fung Wai-wah thinks China should set a good example first
First of all, has Rao ever spent much time in Hong Kong? When we try to Google his name, he is apparently head of the Center for Hong Kong and Macao Studies, but the link does not work -- in fact every other link related to him opens to "problem loading page". Hmmmm.

Which makes one quickly understand he is speaking strictly as a mainlander and not as someone who understands Hong Kong by any capacity.

He blames the Hong Kong government for not doing more to make young people understand the city is a part of China, but they do. It was drilled into their heads when 1997 came along, and after the handover, well, just the sheer number of mainland tourists made them realize that learning Putonghua would be a crucial part of their education.

But for the government to try to remove Hong Kong's colonial past is like China denying the Cultural Revolution ever happened, let alone Tiananmen Square. Hong Kong is the way it is because of the British and will forever be a part of the city's history whether the Chinese like it or not.

If they wanted to whitewash Hong Kong's colonial history then they should have removed all the British names of streets and buildings and given them other ones. But that would be too confusing so let it be.

More importantly Rao seems to forget -- or perhaps he doesn't even know -- that Hong Kong was a refuge for people escaping from the mainland. They were fleeing from Communism and the horrors of people starving to death from the Great Leap Forward and the psychological terror of the Cultural Revolution... He should know since what we can find out about him is that he was born in 1948...

But Fung Wai-wah, president of the pan-democrat Professional Teachers' Union, said even if national education had been introduced, it would not have strengthened Hong Kong students' national identity.

"A school subject is only a very small part of students' lives," he said. "What really leaves a big impact is how mainlanders affect Hong Kong, how Beijing treats Hong Kong and what's been happening in the mainland."

He said Hong Kong people, especially young people, had negative views on those three issues, and that to alter those perceptions, Beijing would have to bring about change on all three fronts.

This is true -- everyday interaction with mainlanders and what news they read affects Hong Kong people's opinions of China. There are still a good number who have never crossed the border because of what they have read or seen about China in the media, or they had heard stories from their families or relatives about fleeing the mainland in the 1940s to the 1970s.

Perhaps Beijing should think about cleaning house -- not just the corruption, but also food security, people's manners, and the pollution -- to demonstrate it is a peaceful rising power, as former President Hu Jintao claimed.

Maybe then young Hong Kong people will have a better impression of China and then maybe will be more receptive to national education?

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