Youth education makes Macao shining example of ‘one country, two systems’ principle

By Zhang Hui in Macao Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/10 15:28:40

About 100 students of different ethnic groups from the Chinese mainland sing patriotic songs at the Sculpture Park of Chinese Ethnics in Macao on September 28. Photo: Zhang Hui/GT

Macao is celebrating its 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) this year. It has been a shining example of the "one country, two systems" principle since its return to the motherland in 1999. 

This Global Times reporter visited Macao in early October and interviewed Macao officials, organization representatives and local youth to find out what factors have contributed to Macao people's patriotism as well as young people's strong sense of national identity. 

Standing in the just unveiled sculpture park featuring 56 Chinese ethnic groups in Macao, Ma Kam-keong, a member of the Administration Committee on Municipal Affairs of Macao's Municipal Affairs Bureau, told the Global Times that Macao people's strong sense of patriotism has resulted from its efforts in patriotic education for its youth. 

"Young people born after Macao's return to the motherland have acquired the correct concepts, such as who we are and what our country is like, since kindergarten," Ma said. He said that this kind of education may not have worked if it were carried out after they grew up. 

Macao's young people interviewed by the Global Times said that Macao's stability and harmony will not be affected by the situation in Hong Kong, and Macao youth will not walk toward the wrong direction of violent demonstrations like some Hong Kong youths have.

"It was because the patriotic education that has been carried out over the years has laid a good foundation. Such education must start at an early age so that an out-of-control situation like what happens in Hong Kong will not happen in Macao," Ma said.

Government and school efforts

Macao primary schools regularly organize students to visit the Commemorative Gallery of the Macao Basic Law, which explains the law through video games, pictures and films. The Macao government also distributes related materials to primary schools. 

Ma said that the local government also conducts regular surveys of primary students from grade one to six on patriotic education, so that the government can adjust the direction and methods of education in a timely manner. 

The sculpture park where Ma stood, the Sculpture Park of Chinese Ethnics, is the only park featuring ethnic groups and one of the education zones for Macao residents, especially young people. 

The park features images of 56 ethnic groups, and visitors can scan the QR code below the sculptures for information on those groups. An exhibition hall in the park showcases the costumes and musical instruments used by different ethnic minorities. 

"Young people have to love Macao first in order to better love the country," Ma said. He said that the Macao government has set up 19 walking routes for local residents and visitors to walk along the streets of the city to learn about its once forgotten history and explore the tales of Macao. 

Residents can book the tour by telephone or online, and a tour guide will outline the region's history during their walk. 

One of the routes, "Affection for the Macao Basic Law," connects a series of buildings and sites that take the visitor through the historical changes and political developments of Macao, including the Commemorative Pavilion of the Macao Handover, Commemorative Gallery of the Macao Basic Law and the Golden Lotus Square. Ma said that the route demonstrates Macao's prosperity and stability which are protected under the Basic Law.

During the National Day holiday, around 100 ethnic minority college students from the Chinese mainland walked some of the routes together with local Macao high school students. Many Macao students said that it was their first time visiting some of the sites, and that it gave them a deeper understanding of Macao's history and its connections with the motherland. 

Aside from receiving patriotic education in Macao, young people from the SAR also visit different cities in the mainland to deepen their understanding and experience the major changes taking place there. 

Ma said that Macao high school students attend exchange and voluntary teaching activities held in Chinese mainland cities every year. Last year, a group of Macao students visited remote areas in Southwest China's Guizhou Province to donate school supplies and interact with rural children. This year, some students visited East China's Shandong Province, the birthplace of Confucius, to learn about China's traditional culture.

Ma said that they receive lots of applications for the activities every year, and have to select from applicants due to limited places. 

Private sector 

In addition to government and school efforts, Macao's various organizations also provide a platform for local youth to learn about China's history and development through a series of activities and also encourage the government to come up with more supporting policies. 

The Association for the Promotion of Chinese Ethnic Unity in Macao has invited about 100 college students from different ethnic groups to have an exchange with Macao high school students and also participate in celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, visited Macao streets and shared their views on youth participation in the Belt and Road Initiative.

"I hope all Macao people, especially young people, can be a tour guide for the 'one country, two systems' principle in Macao," Vong Veng-hin, chairman of the Association for the Promotion of Chinese Ethnic Unity, said. 

The association has established a platform to promote communication between youth from Macao, the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. So far, 1,800 young people have come to Macao for cultural exchange activities. 

Vong has devoted himself to ethnic unity work since 2001, after he visited Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to learn about different ethnic groups in 2000. 

Many young Macao people know little about the 56 ethnic groups of China, and through this platform, "young people of different ethnic groups gained friendship and Macao youth also cultivated their patriotism," Vong said. 

The Macao government has launched several projects aimed at ethnic minorities, including providing scholarships to ethnic minority college students on the Chinese mainland for their master's studies in Macao.

The association also invited small and medium-sized enterprises from ethnic minority regions on the Chinese mainland to attend the Macao international trade and investment expo every year, helping them promote their products, Vong said.
Newspaper headline: Model of patriotism

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