One-Sided Education of China

by Lauren Smolic

It has only been fifteen years since Britain gave control of Hong Kong over to China. Since that time, this territory has been able to enjoy a very independent atmosphere, away from mainland China. This atmosphere includes independency of education, political views, and ideas. From an education standpoint, Hong Kong seems to be very successful on its own, as the BBC has moved Hong Kong’s educational ranking as extremely high, the forth highest in the world. With their success, the people of Hong Kong want to stay on their own, as they still foster sadness from horrible events like, Nanking Massacre and the Tiananmen Square massacre. They have good reason to be wary of any influence from mainland China, as they fear that the communist minds will try to change the independence and comfort that Hong Kong has established while they have been separated from China. Granted, having a communist government is not necessarily going to take away from the freedom of the people. However, Hong Kong’s wary actions have proved to be wise, as they have started to see that China is trying to implement education in their schools that would be lacking any history of the millions of people that have been killed by the Chinese government.

Mainland China has made movements to introduce new education into the schools of Hong Kong. The education has teaching books and material for the students to learn from. The mainland has decided that Hong Kong does not have enough education of Chinese history. As Wang Guangya, the director of Chinese relations to Hong Kong, says, “If you don’t have such knowledge, you will find it difficult to understand why China chose to follow the way of socialism since 1949… Don’t take it negatively when you hear the phrase national education.” From his standpoint, the Communist government is the right choice for the people. He wants children to be able to understand why they should believe in the communist party and support it. This is an interesting point, as Hong Kong is deeply concerned with their children learning about accurate history of China. There are positive ways to see the Chinese government, as many citizens support this ruling with their lives. Children have a right to learn about all forms of government, without bias or influence, positive or negative, from their teachers. Hong Kong should not impose education in schools that solely focuses on what the Chinese government has done wrong, if they want their students to get an accurate education.

Unfortunately, most of Hong Kong’s people are less than pleased with the Communist government, as well as its influence on their children’s education. Educational materials from the Communist government have become a huge concern for the people living in Hong Kong, as they believe that these materials do not include everything that their children need to learn about their country of China. In this new education strategy, the government of China would like children to learn about the wonderful history of China, visit various historic places in their country, and learn how to draw their country’s flag. Yet, no where in this new education is any description of the horrible events that happened in China. Mainland China has the right to teach its citizens about Chinese history, but it cannot bend the truth, making it seem like the Chinese government has done nothing wrong in its history. The Chinese history that is of concern to Hong Kong did not even occur long ago, as Tiananmen Square was only in 1989, an even that much of Hong Kong can clearly remember living through. It is a insult to the intelligence of the people of Hong Kong, that the Chinese government should try to ignore the lack of respect China has had for human rights. The Chinese government is trying to implement an education plan that is extremely one sided. In fact, the people of Hong Kong look at this education plan as an attempt at brain-washing. People of Hong Kong remember the millions of deaths that have been lost as a result of the Chinese government, and they are not ready to forget.

China is not the only country that has tried to hide a horrible past. With Hong Kong’s emphasis on International education, its people know all about powerful countries try to remove a shameful past. In 2011, the British Council said that “Hong Kong ranks first for international higher education openness among eight East Asian countries.” The people of Hong Kong do not want their countries history to try to be hidden, as Japan tries to hide its attack of Pearl Harbor in World War II and Germany tries to hide the Nazi influence. Even the United States has a lot of history that they try to hide. One of our own states, Hawaii, was illegally annexed into the country, but that is barely taught in schools. History of the world’s nations have shown that the victors write history as they want to see it. Hong Kong is trying to remember the people lost in China’s history, so that their lives were not lost in vain.

Citizens were so enraged at the Chinese government for imposing these education plans in Hong Kong schools, that, 90,000 people decided to march, protesting against the “brain-washing” of the Chinese government. There were signs, t-shirts, cheers, and cries: all trying to save the independence and freedom that the Hong Kong citizens hold dear. It was shocking and disappointing to hear that the Chinese government could not even report the truth about this current news. Chinese “police estimates put the turnout at 32,000,” which is close to 60,000 less than the real number of supporters. This was not the first protest either. There was a protest on July first that included “400,000 people demanding improved governance, full democracy, and less interference from Beijing” (Reuters).

Interestingly enough, the Asia Times points out that Hong Kong is the most patriotic city in China. Articles point out that Hong Kong celebrated the Olympic wins more than anywhere else in all of China, cheered for Chinese astronauts planning to go to the moon, and praised achievements in the Chinese economy as a whole. The fact that mainland China does not see this patriotism in Honk Hong seems to be a lack of respect for the people of Hong Kong. They should be able to choose the way they celebrate their country, and show nationalism. Nationalism does not have to be a blind following of the government, and I would argue that blind patriotism has much less meaning than patriotism that an educated decision to be patriotic. That being said, Hong Kong should take pride in its education, as it has moved up significantly in the ratings of education among our world’s countries. BBC news shows just how well Hong Kong has been doing, saying, “Hong Kong which was performing well in the last decade of British rule, has gone from good to great. In this global ranking, it came fourth in reading, second in maths and third in science.” Even when they are struggling for independence, the people of Hong Kong have not let education out of the picture.

The Chinese government should be thrilled that part of their country has such high ratings of education, yet this is the part of their country that China wants to change. China wants Hong Kong to know about the wonders of the government, but leave out all the bad. Nationalism is important, but the people of Hong Kong believe that they should have the right to choose how they teach about their nation. They want the children to know about the bad things that happened in China, so that perhaps they can be prevented in the future. Mainland China needs to respect the educational structure of Hong Kong, giving their people the right to know everything about the history of China, not only the good.

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