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Friday, January 9, 2015, 09:03

HK youth should develop a national identity: Chen Zuo'er

By Luis Liu in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s education sector should reflect on its work in the past years as a considerable portion of youth in the city lack a national consciousness, said Chen Zuo'er, former deputy director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office.

Speaking at a seminar on Hong Kong youth issues in Beijing on Thursday, Chen — also president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies — urged the city’s authorities to “make the best of its resources” to educate young people.

“Hong Kong’s young students are intelligent and hard working. However, they lack a sense of national identity and of Chinese history,” Chen said. He stressed that the “Occupy Central” movement was the result of failings in the education system.

“Why have those who were just little babies back in 1997 become protesters waving colonial flags and breaking into the (People’s Liberation Army) barracks, the Legislative Council and the government headquarters?” asked Chen. He added that the Hong Kong government had to assess whether its education policy had adequate connections with the Basic Law, the “One Country, Two Systems” policy and the nation’s Constitution.

The external forces’ scramble for power in Hong Kong will continue in the future, he cautioned, “the city should not rest without worries.” It is urgent, he advised, for the city government to bring the young people back on track through education.

Rao Geping, the association’s vice-president and a member of the HKSAR Basic Law Committee under the country’s top legislative body, said it was vital to align Hong Kong’s education system with the “One Country, Two Systems” policy.

He agreed that the majority of Hong Kong people love the country and Chinese culture, but the British legacy still greatly influences them.

The Education Bureau said it had been a key goal since 1997 to cultivate the youth of the territory to become knowledgeable and responsible citizens possessing national identity and global vision. It promised to maximize efforts to deepen student’s understanding of the Basic Law and the “One Country, Two Systems” policy.

At the Beijing seminar, Patrick Ho Chi-ping, the HKSAR’s former secretary for home affairs, attributed the increasing rebelliousness of Hong Kong young people to the city’s diminishing edge over the mainland.

“The mainland’s rapid development after the reunification has changed the whole economic landscape,” Ho told the seminar. “Thus some Hong Kong youth became anxious as they are unable to deal with the change.”

He urged the city’s young people to “change their mindset”, to see themselves as Chinese citizens and the future social pillars of Hong Kong. Ho advised the government to implement a comprehensive review of the SAR’s education system. 
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