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Hong Kong localism and independence

Conscript army needed if Hong Kong were to split from China, says pro-independence group led by secondary school students

Convenor Tony Chung says Studentlocalism hopes to set up localist concern groups in more than 200 schools

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 August, 2016, 2:11pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 August, 2016, 2:26am

A pro-independence group led by secondary school students announced plans yesterday to establish localist factions in more than 200 schools to discuss the contentious idea of separating Hong Kong from China.

They also suggested compulsory military service for the city’s youth “after independence”, openly defying recent moves by the government to curb the trend of separatist talk in schools.

On a radio programme yesterday, Studentlocalism convenor Tony Chung Hon-lam said his group would start to promote localism in schools through such groups, and by distributing leaflets.

“The leaflets would be about opposing the use of Putonghua to teach Chinese, protecting traditional Chinese characters, or even Hong Kong independence,” he said.

‘Students can discuss anything under guidance of teachers’: Hong Kong education minister breaks silence on independence talk on campus

Founded in April, Studentlocalism has around 60 members and is targeting school campuses to spread the word. So far, pupils from at least 17 schools, including Wah Yan College on Hong Kong Island and Ying Wa College in Cheung Sha Wan, have already set up concern groups.

On Sunday, the Education Bureau set off a storm by warning that teachers could be dismissed if they encouraged students to engage in separatist talk.

According to a bureau spokesman, education minister Eddie Ng Hak-kim met the principals of all 30 government-run secondary schools this week to discuss concerns about the concept of independence “invading schools”.

A source familiar with the meeting said Ng reiterated that independence advocacy was against the Basic Law and should not be allowed on campuses. He asked the principals to deliver this message to all stakeholders.

After meeting top officials from the Ministry of Education in Beijing on Thursday, Ng spelled out that independence talk in schools should only be allowed in schools under the supervision of teachers and within the limits of the Basic Law.

Hong Kong teachers warned they could be struck off for separatist talk in schools

Chung said he expected schools and authorities would try to clamp down on their activities.

“If they try to stop us from distributing leaflets, we could do that just outside the school where they can’t stop us from doing anything,” he said.

On how Hong Kong would handle defence if it became independent, Chung said the city would need a conscript army.

“Hong Kong’s youngsters are relatively weak. So if all adults could be drafted into the army for a year or two, it would be good for their health, in addition to being able to protect our country.”

Dr Chung Kim-wah, a political scientist at Polytechnic University, called it “very far fetched”.

“The possibility that Hong Kong could become independent is very low, so talking about the need to build an army is even more irrelevant,” he said.

Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said it was difficult to determine whether Chung’s suggestion had violated any laws as it was a hypothetical scenario.

The government also issued a statement yesterday saying it “does not welcome” activists advocating Taiwan independence to campaign in Hong Kong for local political organisations, after reports of at least one such invitation.