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Hong Kong localism and independence

Teens at top schools DBS and La Salle form localist groups to ‘fan flames’ of Hong Kong independence

City now has at least 56 secondary schools with such organisations

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 September, 2016, 7:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 September, 2016, 8:51am

Students from two top schools in Hong Kong have entered the heated independence debate by setting up localist Facebook groups, with one issuing a strongly-worded statement speaking of “fanning flames” of separatist sentiment.

The recent establishments of the localist groups – at Diocesan Boys’ School, Mong Kok, and La Salle College, Kowloon Tong – bring the number of secondary schools with such groups to at least 56, or more than 10 per cent of around 500 secondary schools in the city.

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In the statement issued on Facebook on Sunday night, the group from Diocesan Boys’ School – claiming to be current students from the school – criticised the local government for “going against the public opinion”, “wantonly suppressing the willpower of Hongkongers” and “smearing localist forces”.

The students vowed to “fan flames” to allow talk of independence to spread throughout the city’s secondary schools.

By Monday night that post had more than 3,600 likes.

A spokeswoman for the school said: “While we applaud the students’ concern for national affairs, the school has not received any application to establish such a society. The school continues to support active discussions and discourse of various subjects.”

The school’s localist group also said it did not represent the stance of the school and was willing to communicate with teachers.

The localist group for La Salle College said it aimed to advocate localism and “draw a divide” between Hong Kong and the mainland, but did not state its stance on independence. It added it would try to promote its aims on campus.

The school’s principal, Tong Wun-sing, pointed out that it was not clear whether the page was set up by students yet, but said that the school respected students’ freedom of expression if they were discussing independence topics off campus.

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He also said staff had taken no action as the group did not obstruct school operations, but they would have to “assess the situation” should students decide to take their activities onto campus.

Pro-independence advocacy among secondary students has risen since the new term began in September.

Several localist groups have handed out separatist-themed fliers to students inside or near campuses since the school year began on September 1, and a group spray-painted slogans at school about two weeks ago.