Hong Kong schools

How Chinese history lessons can benefit Hong Kong students

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 April, 2018, 10:30am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 April, 2018, 10:30am

I refer to the article, “Nothing wrong with school history textbooks reflecting Chinese view of Hong Kong handover, Carrie Lam says” (April 24).

The issue of whether Chinese history should be promoted as a subject and introduced to the secondary school syllabus has caused controversy in Hong Kong. 

In recent years, the authorities in Beijing have become increasingly proactive in Hong Kong affairs and elections, including on the promotion of national education. This has raised fears among many Hongkongers that the central government wants to reverse Hong Kong’s values and step up defence of its own.

However, I agree with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, that many people have overreacted to the findings of the Education Bureau’s external textbook review group about references to the 1997 return of Hong Kong to mainland China. 

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It is important that China’s national history be taught accurately to secondary students. Its study can benefit local students, not just by imparting knowledge of their nation and origins, but also by training their minds to think in a critical way.

Why do Chinese history lessons get a bad reputation in Hong Kong?

History as a subject can help build a sense of belonging in the community. History and culture are inextricably linked, and having a deeper understanding of Chinese culture (through historical or classical texts and architecture) can help to promote national identity. 

Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China. And people may think of themselves as being more Chinese, rather than a Hong Kong citizen, if they feel they have the same historical background as their peers on the mainland. This can foster stronger ties and greater harmony between mainlanders and Hongkongers, and will lead Hong Kong people to cherish their status as Chinese.

Therefore, the advantages of introducing Chinese history in the secondary school syllabus outweigh any negatives.

Victoria Lai, Kwai Chung