Let patriotism in HK evolve naturally
Since 2004, the government has produced three videos to broadcast with the national anthem every night before the television news. Starting next week, a new one will be shown. This averages one new video a year. Broadcasting the nation's anthem should be a solemn affair. But many families in Hong Kong watch the news while they have dinner. So the broadcast becomes background music with an upbeat promotional video. Certainly, the exercise is harmless, but it increasingly looks like overkill. It may be time to rethink whether this is really the best way to promote patriotism.
A 2006 survey by China Central Television found no other countries broadcast their national anthems around dinner time. Even the state-run television station has moved its primetime evening broadcast of the anthem to a new time slot early in the morning. Studies have repeatedly shown that Hong Kong people increasingly identify themselves as Chinese nationals. Since the handover, more people, including youngsters, feel a sense of pride at being part of the nation. Such feelings are spontaneous, not forced.
Many Hong Kong people felt angry and hurt when the Olympic torch relay was disrupted in city after city around the world. They were proud of the success of the Beijing Olympic Games and the nation's latest achievements in space exploration. And they grieved when earthquakes struck Sichuan . Such times show how deeply many people in our city feel about the nation's triumphs and travails.
Even so, the government has been under pressure to respond to complaints that Hongkongers are not patriotic enough. As the city becomes increasingly integrated with the mainland, such complaints become irrelevant. Healthy patriotism stems from a deep appreciation and understanding of one's country and one's place in it. There are ample opportunities for officials to come up with more informative and intelligent programmes to expose Hong Kong people to the nation's past, present and future.
National identity needs to evolve naturally. It is already happening in our city.