In his maiden policy address, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa repeated his call for Hong Kong people to deepen their understanding of Chinese history and culture and pledged to channel resources to the achievement of this aim. Mr Tung's rationale can be easily understood. With the change of sovereignty, Hong Kong people need to attain a sense of belonging to China so as to strengthen their reunion with the motherland. What is unclear is how Mr Tung can put his thinking into action. More precisely, by talking about deepening our understanding of Chinese history and culture, what means has Mr Tung got in mind to help raise our ethnic consciousness? In his speech Mr Tung provided no specific answers but within the community different suggestions have been put forward - the promotion of Chinese arts, maintaining good Chinese traditions and practices, showing movies about China, holding of seminars and pursuing mother-tongue education. All those suggestions are commendable but, realistically, they alone are not enough to imbue Hong Kong people with a genuine sense of belonging to China. To build up a strong foundation for Hong Kong people to identify themselves as part of China, we have to be able to know both the good and bad about our motherland and we to judge independently the principles and policies advocated and implemented by the Chinese government. Recently, a columnist in a Chinese daily paper was lamenting China's unwillingness to give its people the full picture of modern Chinese history. He asked how Hong Kong people could learn about the real picture of the Cultural Revolution and asked why Zhao Ziyang and Hu Yaobang, who contributed greatly to the reform and modernisation of contemporary China were not mentioned in the official documentary on late patriarch Deng Xiaoping. The question remains whether China really wants us to fully understand the motherland. Unlike many of our mainland compatriots, who are constantly fed official accounts of events such as the June 4 crackdown and the Cultural Revolution, Hong Kong Chinese have had exposure to a wider range of channels in gaining their knowledge of China. In deepening their knowledge about Chinese history, Hong Kong people do not start with a blank sheet. Newspapers, magazines, books, journals and movies have all enriched knowledge of their country's past. All governments make mistakes and all leaders have lapses of judgment. But it is through learning what our leaders have actually done that we get to know more about our country, its strengths and constraints, and be inspired to make our own contributions to improving it. Therefore, for any patriotic education to be meaningful and successful, the SAR Government should begin the exercise with an open mind and be honest enough to expose all aspects of Chinese history to the people of Hong Kong. If important historical events and figures are not taught in school, it will only undermine the effectiveness of any official efforts to promote a sense of patriotism. Because, so long as Hong Kong stays as a free society, locals can still look to other channels for information and conclude that they are only being given a distorted picture of their history. Such an impression is not going to help instil faith in the SAR Government, let alone raise the community's ethnic consciousness. Before the SAR Government embarks on any massive campaign to promote patriotism, it should bear in mind the downside of offering one-sided historical accounts.