New Hong Kong textbooks appear to favor Beijing’s accounts of history, with the texts stating that the island was never a British colony and describing the 2019 pro-democracy protests as “terrorist activities.”
A textbook was found to have asserted that Hong Kong was not previously a British colony since the Chinese government had not recognized the unequal treaties that ceded the city to Britain during the 19th century.
This is from just one of the four new sets of textbooks intended for Hong Kong’s secondary schools published last Saturday under the new subject name “citizenship and social development.”
The textbooks will introduce the start of a new curriculum meant to take the place of liberal studies which will reportedly focus on topics of national security, identity, lawfulness and patriotism.
Since the 2019 pro-democracy and anti-government protests in Hong Kong, the territory has seen significant changes to its schools’ educational materials. Pro-Beijing members had previously accused liberal studies of radicalizing youth during the protests.
The new textbooks appear to recall the capitol’s accounts of the protests, clearly favoring a pro-Beijing perspective.
One excerpt from the textbooks reads, “Secession and subversion against the government were advocated in some of those activities, posing a threat to national sovereignty, security and interests.”
“The central authorities believed that the intervention of external forces was involved in these activities and the HKSAR government could not handle them on its own.”
In a Twitter post by exiled, former Kowloon City district councillor Timothy Lee, he reported Ming Pao News’ findings that the new “Government-vet” textbooks branded the 2019 protests as “serious incidents of violence,” “violent terrorist activities” and “opposition & pro-indy organisations publicly challenging PRC & SAR regimes.”
Lee was one of several politicians to leave Hong Kong after a Beijing-imposed national security law was instated in June of 2020, banning acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers.
In an interview with the Morning Post, one liberal studies educator of over 10 years expressed concern with the new subject.
“Discussing the issues with different perspectives and critical thinking only happens in liberal studies,” the teacher shared, adding that the new curriculum does not include details about the police during the unrest.
The new curriculum’s team consisted of a group of pro-Beijing editorial advisers including Basic Law Committee vice-chairwoman Maria Tam Wai-chu, Lau Siu-kai of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Professor Priscilla Lau Pui-king, a former Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress.
The news of the textbooks comes at a time when Beijing appears to be tightening its control of the territory.
Last month, Beijing loyalist and former security chief John Lee was elected as the next Hong Kong chief executive thanks to a largely pro-Beijing election committee.
He had initially gained notoriety for his crackdown of the Hong Kong protests, of which he had defended as a necessary move to keep the city from becoming a “bottomless abyss.”