29th May 2024

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New high-level working group on patriotism in Hong Kong may adopt innovative approach

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“We want the new generation to really appreciate our Chinese culture, our Chinese history and also the contemporary developments of our country,” he said. “We also want to organise activities with different sectors for students and teachers.

“It will be important to look at quantity, but what I am after more will be the quality of the education, because after all, it is the passion and the love that we want to create and promote in the whole exercise.”

A flag-raising ceremony at a Kowloon Bay school. The Working Group on Patriotic Education would conduct regular reviews on group visits organised by schools to mainland China, one member said. Photo: Felix Wong

The government had said members of the Working Group on Patriotic Education would coordinate with different departments and social sectors, and focus efforts on four aspects: school education; local community; history, politics, economy and culture; and media publicity.

The group, set up under the Constitution and Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee which is chaired by the city’s No 2 official Chief Secretary Eric Chan Kwok-ki, has 13 non-official members including group convenor Starry Lee Wai-king, the sole Hong Kong delegate to the nation’s top legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

Twelve representatives from the government, including Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang Kwok-wai and Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung, are also members.

The group, first announced in city leader Lee’s 2023 policy address, was established in line with the patriotic education law passed by the standing committee in October of last year.

The law lays down content, goals, guiding principles and a leadership mechanism for patriotic education, as well as the duties of departments involved.

Working group convenor Starry Lee said no detailed agenda and goals had been set yet as members had not decided when to hold their first meeting.

But she said she expected the group’s short-term work would be integrated and connected with the tasks related to the 75th anniversary of the country’s establishment.

Hong Kong to set up ‘high-level patriotic education unit’ as national law passed

Former president of the Hong Kong Law Society Melissa Kaye Pang, one of the 13 unofficial members, said she expected one focus would be to present how Hong Kong had transitioned from “chaos to governance, then to thrive” in recent years.

“I think the topic is unavoidable, and worth the attention from society,” she said.

Pang, who previously chaired the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education, added that a “soft and interesting” approach to advancing patriotism among residents was expected to be another topic for the group to study, citing a fashion show on traditional Chinese clothes as an example.

Hong Kong will not use performance goals to measure patriotic education: minister

Another group member, lawmaker and Lingnan University’s associate vice-president Lau Chi-pang, said the city lacked a holistic strategy for patriotic education, which might lead to an overlap of resources and unclear understanding among residents.

“I think the group will work together to craft out a clear definition and scope of patriotic education and brief it to all related government departments and non-governmental organisations to allow all stakeholders to stay on the same page,” he said.

The lawmaker also said he expected the group would conduct regular reviews on group visits organised by schools and other organisations to mainland China to evaluate their impact and determine whether there was any room for improvement.

Mainland study tours are part of the curriculum of a new core subject, citizenship and social development, introduced after the anti-government protests in 2019.

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