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Tuesday, May 04, 2021, 00:41
Education on NSL promotes HK's stability
By Oriol Caudevilla
Tuesday, May 04, 2021, 00:41 By Oriol Caudevilla

As an old Chinese proverb goes, “if you are planning for a year, sow rice. If you are planning for a decade, plant trees. If you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” While the payoff for educating people may not be immediate, its benefits are remarkable in the long term. May 4 marks the memorial of the well-educated youth pursuing peace and prosperity of China in the 20th century.

The May Fourth Movement was a patriotic, cultural, and political movement initiated by students in Beijing on May 4, 1919. This situation was caused by the decisions adopted at the Versailles Peace Conference, the treaty officially ending World War I, to transfer former German concessions in Shandong province to Japan. That led to the birth of the movement when nearly 3,000 students protested to defend the integrity and sovereignty of China.

May 4 is a perfect day to remind everyone that patriotism is necessary in Hong Kong if the special administrative region still needs to uphold national security and aspire to sustainable stability and success in the 21st century.

The main issue surrounding the National Security Law for Hong Kong, which took effect on June 30, 2020, is that many media have not even tried to analyze what it implies and why it was enacted. They have just focused on trying to provide citizens with arguments on how this law is “ending Hong Kong’s freedoms and its status quo”, whereas the reality is much more complex than that.

As I mentioned in “Security law will secure future of Hong Kong” (China Daily Hong Kong, June 19, 2020), almost every nation has laws to protect its national security, with most of them being much harsher than the National Security Law for Hong Kong.

The truth is that since the legislation targets only separatist activities, subversion of State power, terrorism and external interference, 99.9 percent of Hong Kong people have not been and will not be affected by this new law. Count how many people in Hong Kong actually engage in any of these activities, and I believe the number would be lower than 0.1 percent. Therefore, the National Security Law for Hong Kong is not really affecting most people’s lives, at least not in a negative way.

There is no better way than education to make sure everyone in Hong Kong understands not only what the National Security Law for Hong Kong is all about, but also what the Basic Law and the “one country, two systems” principle are really intended for

As a result, we need education to counteract such a negative impression. One of the most recent events in this respect was the annual National Security Education Day on April 15, when citywide events ranging from Chinese military-style marches to school promotional activities for children, such as quizzes, were held. The SAR government said that the events were aimed at creating a “positive atmosphere of national security” and deepening city residents’ understanding of the National Security Law for Hong Kong, the Chinese Constitution, and the Basic Law.

In my opinion, educating the public, especially the youth, on national security in Hong Kong is more necessary now than ever. While some see it as indoctrination, to me, it is simply a way to ensure that all citizens understand the meaning and implications of the National Security Law for Hong Kong. No one is forcing these students to think in a specific way. Everyone in Hong Kong is free to express, in a peaceful way, their affection of the Chinese mainland, to a greater or lesser extent. 

As explained by Chow Pak-chin in his article “National security education should be in every classroom” (China Daily Hong Kong Edition, April 23, 2021), “only with a security law in place, can a country’s economy operate smoothly and its citizens live their lives as they wish, without fear of foreign intervention or interruption. The NSL provides clarity in matters relating to our Basic Law and as such, national security education should be a requisite for every classroom.”

We must bear in mind that the National Security Law for Hong Kong is not and will not be an attempt to undermine Hong Kong’s normal status quo, it is simply a tool to put an end to the abnormal situation witnessed in the anti-government violent campaign that lasted for months in 2019. 

That situation can never happen again: After the COVID-19 pandemic onslaught and the social unrest, what Hong Kong desperately needs is stability, which is necessary for any economy to prosper, especially for an important global financial hub like Hong Kong. The city has faced two very challenging years, with the social unrest and then the COVID-19 pandemic, it is high time that we bring back order, stability and calm.

There is no better way than education to make sure everyone in Hong Kong understands not only what the National Security Law for Hong Kong is all about, but also what the Basic Law and the “one country, two systems” principle are really intended for. If such understanding had existed among the young minds in Hong Kong before 2019, most of the reprehensible events that took place in 2019-20 would not have happened.

The author works as a fintech adviser and researcher. He has worked as a business analyst for a Hong Kong publicly listed company.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily. 

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