June 19, 2024


International Student Club UK

Explainer: Why Hong Kong’s new textbooks for secondary schools have stopped calling the city a British colony – YP


Some citizens accused the new texts of distorting the city’s heritage, although other people defended the curriculum by citing an formal United Nations document showing Hong Kong experienced been eliminated from the past record of colonies.

Here is what you want to know about the debate.

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1. When did the controversy surface area? What have been the arguments?

Subsequent the city’s handover to Chinese rule in 1997, some professional-Beijing newspapers once in a while released commentaries that stated Hong Kong was never ever a British colony, with several citing a successful vote by the UN in 1972 to strike the city from the checklist of colonies adhering to a ask for from mainland China.

The posted commentaries largely made identical factors, arguing that Hong Kong was forcibly occupied by the United Kingdom and that the mainland by no means surrendered its sovereignty above the space.

In addition to difficulties about the use of the term “colony”, the Write-up in 2018 noted that the city’s official protocol business office had erased the phrase “handover of sovereignty” from its internet site.

Then main secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung had stated making use of the term “handover” to describe the city’s return to Chinese rule in 1997 did “not properly replicate the substance or description of this momentous historical occasion” and fell short of official terminology recommendations.

Former Chinese Leading Li Peng (left) presiding over the swearing-in of Hong Kong’s very first Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa at the Hong Kong Distinctive Administrative inaugural ceremony shortly immediately after the handover. Image: Handout

2. Why is this subject matter discussed in textbooks?

The new textbooks for senior secondary pupils had been printed in early June as part of the revamped liberal experiments study course, renamed citizenship and social improvement, introduced very last September. The new syllabus focuses on countrywide protection, identification, patriotism and lawfulness.

The subject matter of Hong Kong’s earlier under British rule is incorporated in a chapter talking about the “one country, two systems” governing theory, a person of the core subject matter themes.

In comparison, teaching elements produced for the prior liberal experiments class taught at secondary universities did not straight deal with the matter, concentrating on themes these as social consciousness and significant imagining techniques.

However, the Training Bureau opted to overhaul the subject matter soon after politicians from the city’s pro-establishment camp experienced mentioned these matters helped to radicalise youths and culminated in the social unrest in 2019.

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3. How do the new textbooks describe Hong Kong’s colonial earlier?

As aspect of the revamped syllabus, the educating elements cited how the Chinese authorities had hardly ever recognised the Treaty of Nanking, an arrangement signed in the aftermath of the initially opium war in 1842, which forced the country’s last imperial dynasty to cede possession of Hong Kong Island to the British.

The textbooks argued from describing Hong Kong as a colony and rather said the town was beneath the “colonial administration of Britain”.

“Chinese governments succeeding the Qing dynasty have by no means recognised the unequal treaties and they have in no way supplied up sovereignty in excess of Hong Kong. Therefore, Hong Kong is not a colony,” 1 book reported.

One of the new textbooks introduced for Hong Kong’s revised liberal research training course. Photograph: Handout

“In the 1960s, the United Nations founded the Unique Committee on Decolonization to help colonies in gaining the correct to self-determination independence. To safeguard her sovereignty in excess of Hong Kong and Macau, China demanded the committee to take away Hong Kong and Macau from its list of colonies in 1972.”

The textbook famous the resolution was adopted by a majority vote.

A further textbook mentioned the UN vote reflected Beijing’s stance on the subject matter of Hong Kong’s sovereignty, arguing that the town was in no position to declare its independence or make a scenario for self-willpower.

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4. How was the city’s colonial past taught in the earlier?

Hong Kong was explained in the 1990s as a British colony as element of the now-scrapped economic and community affairs training course for pupils in Variety 1 to Form Three.

In the very first chapter of the textbook for Variety A single college students, titled “Development of Hong Kong”, the teaching supplies utilised the phrase “Hong Kong as a British Colony” for a person of the highlighted matters.

Professor Paul Morris, creator of a textbook on the liberal scientific tests subject ahead of the revamp, informed the Publish that Hong Kong was described as a colony from 1843 to 1997 in all the related textbooks at the time, which include those for Financial and Public Affairs, History, Social Studies, and based on the official curricula then.

“If it has been resolved that Hong Kong was not a colony, then the concern is what was its technique of governance in that time period?” he asked.

Authorities overhauled the previous liberal scientific tests curriculum right after professional-establishment politicians accused it of serving to to radicalise youthful residents. Photo: Sam Tsang

Morris, now a professor of comparative training at College College or university London, stated the existing variation recommended the Treaty of Nanking was unequal and forced on China, and Hong Kong was for that reason not a colony.

“I was not aware that historically colonies had been defined as territories that had been made by way of settlement and equivalent treaties. If that was the situation, then all these colonies about the globe created by invasion and armed forces drive hardly ever existed,” he claimed.

In accordance to two teachers acquainted with the make any difference, the use of such phrasings started to alter when the governing administration introduced the new senior secondary curriculum in 2009.

A person educator, who was previously included in vetting textbooks, explained authorities had demanded publishers to point out Hong Kong was underneath British rule for a time period, as an alternative of describing it as a colony.

“We have to remind publishers which recommended Hong Kong was a colony that their concept is not proper,” said the instructor, who spoke on issue of anonymity.

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5. Why is the debate so crucial?

Last June, Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the semi-formal consider tank, the Chinese Affiliation of Hong Kong and Macau Experiments, spelled out the importance of not describing the town as a former British colony in an formal coaching session for all those instructing the new liberal scientific tests class.

Lau had claimed calling Hong Kong a British colony would build the perception that the mainland regarded the colonial administration ahead of 1997 to be legitimate. He included that China experienced in no way recognised the unequal treaties made use of to acquire possession of the town and experienced only permitted Britain to rule it at that time.


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