Hong Kong education bureau to remove books with subversive content
Published: Jul 06, 2020 10:58 PM

Children attend an event marking the new semester at Yaumati Catholic Primary School in south China's Hong Kong, Sept. 2, 2019.Photo:Xinhua

The Hong Kong education bureau has vowed to remove textbooks and reading materials in schools that involve inciting subversion, separatism and other illegal content forbidden by the newly enacted National Security Law, and will regularly check if such books exist within campuses. 

Reading materials provided to students should match the curriculum and have suitable content, and school administrations should also regularly check students' books to ensure they are appropriate for lessons, the bureau told the Global Times on Monday.

The bureau vowed to remove any books found to contain content that encourages subversion, terrorist activities, collusion with foreign forces, or other illegal content forbidden by the newly enacted National Security Law, unless the content aims to explain the law to students, said the bureau.

Schools still have the right to prepare textbooks for students under the guidance of the bureau, but should also carefully examine books that are selected. If problems emerge, the bureau will follow through.

Tang Fei, principal of Hong Kong's Heung To Secondary School (Tseung Kwan O), who is a member of the council of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times that it is the same as schools being asked to reject books that promote pornography and violence.

"If those books are not allowed on campus, why should books that incite independence be allowed? Also, the newly enacted National Security Law has said clearly what kind of behavior is considered to endanger national security," Tang said. 

The national security law said that the Hong Kong government should raise residents' national security and legal consciousness through schools, social organizations, media and websites.

The education bureau told the Global Times that it will step up measures to enhance students' sense of national identity, and will seek advice from relevant policy bureaus as soon as possible for detailed guidelines on how to enhance students' national security and law-abiding awareness. 

Deputy-director of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers Nicholas Muk, who teaches at Pui Kiu middle school, told the Global Times that as schools are now busy with final examinations, there are no moves yet to include the new law in the curriculum. But he expects textbooks that explain the law will be dispatched to students and teachers before September, the beginning of new semester. 

On June 27, Hong Kong Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung told media that the National Security Law for Hong Kong will be introduced to local students through courses. He noted that the national security legislation is very important for both the country and the city.  

Council chairmen of renowned universities such as the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Chinese University of Hong Kong all endorsed the law on July 1, the first full day after the law took effect.

Muk said that the law must be taught and interpreted to young people via a way they are familiar with. Education about the National Security Law for the next generation of Hong Kong can help them understand the basis for and necessity of such legislation, thus making every Hong Kong resident a promoter of stability and prosperity of the city, as well as protectors of national security, Muk said.

In previous years, many Hong Kong textbooks were accused by parents and observers for "inciting hatred toward the Chinese mainland, and even encouraging students to participate in protests. For example, a high school textbook in Hong Kong was found referring to mainlanders as "locusts," a derogatory name, with content that disparaged the central government for "suppressing Hong Kong and interfering with Hong Kong's affairs."