Hong Kong’s leader reiterates opposition to independence talk in schools, as slogans are removed on one campus
Leung Chun-ying also says ‘one country, two systems’ formula can run beyond 2047 and there is no need to renegotiate formula guaranteeing city’s freedoms
Pro-independence discussions should not be allowed in Hong Kong schools, the chief executive emphasised in an interview with a state-owned newspaper, as one school removed separatist-themed slogans painted on campus property.
In an interview with China Daily, Leung Chun-ying also rejected suggestions for a “second negotiation” on Hong Kong’s future beyond 2047, the expiry date of the 50-year agreement under the Sino-British Joint Declaration that guaranteed Hong Kong its capitalist life under the “one country, two systems” formula adopted in 1997.
“My view is that we don’t have to change that [capitalist system and way of life], because this ‘one country, two systems’ serves Hong Kong well today, and in 2047 and thereafter,” Leung was quoted as saying.
On the topic of pro-independence talk at schools, Leung said if authorities did not tackle calls for the city to split from the mainland, separatism would spread.
He maintained that if students wished to discuss the city’s sovereignty, it should be done under the guidance of teachers and within the context of the Basic Law.
Leung, however, dismissed calls for authorities to issue guidelines to schools on how to deal with the matter, given the “simple, clear provision of the Basic Law”. He has held a firm stance on the issue, saying that pro-independence talk was not a matter of free speech, but of “right and wrong”.
Pro-independence advocacy in the city’s schools has been on the rise since the new term began in September.
On Wednesday, students from the HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity in Kowloon City pasted stickers saying “I stand for Hong Kong Independence” around the campus. Pro-independence slogans were also spray-painted on a staircase.
Sunnie Hung Sum-in, founder of the localist concern group at the arts and design school, said the school removed the slogans on Thursday.
Hung claimed that the school took the action on the advice of the Education Bureau and that the school discussed the removal of slogans with students before acting.
The bureau did not confirm or clarify whether it had issued a statement to the school to remove the slogans. “Part of the Education Bureau’s work is to maintain close contact with schools and to offer advice and appropriate support on the school’s development,” it said.
However, the statement added that the bureau had already made it clear that any activities advocating independence should not appear on campus as it did not comply with the Basic Law, and schools should follow up with “appropriate action”.
Members of the localist group at the school said they were allowed to hand out fliers at the school entrance and that students distributing leaflets on campus went unchallenged.
The school did not respond to the Post’s inquiries.