Beijing is injecting 15 million yuan (US$2.27 million) more each year into a scholarship fund for Hong Kong and Macau students enrolled in mainland universities but with a new, potentially controversial string attached – they must “love the motherland and uphold the ‘one country, two systems’ policy”. This condition, added to the top of the list of three existing requirements, was revealed when the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office announced on Monday several measures to give Hongkongers and Macanese on the mainland equal treatment with their counterparts there. Its announcement followed the slew of goodies disclosed by Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor , including greater access to jobs, school places and housing funds on the mainland for Hongkongers, that she had secured from state leaders during her maiden duty visit to Beijing last week. Carrie Lam faces test after glowing duty visit The new requirement was included in a document on scholarship guidelines for Hong Kong, Macau and overseas Chinese, jointly issued by the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Education in October to replace an earlier version in effect since 2006. The other three requirements are: recipients should abide by China’s laws and their school rules; be honest, trustworthy and morally upright; and get good grades. While scholarship recipients who violated the country’s laws and regulations, joined illegal social groups or organisations, or broke school rules would, as before, be deprived of their honours and prizes, the updated regulations added a new violation to the list. Recipients who were responsible for words or actions opposing the “one country, two systems” governance principle, under which Hong Kong currently enjoys a high degree of autonomy, would also be disqualified. How can Carrie Lam accomplish her new mission of pushing Hongkongers to learn more about China’s Communist Party? Yet the deal for compliant students was made sweeter – with the addition of a new tier of awards, an average of 70 per cent increase in funding across all awards, and 230 additional scholarship places across the more than 100 mainland universities that take in Hong Kong students. Most of the new places are for undergraduates. Currently, there are about 15,000 Hong Kong students studying in universities on the mainland. For each batch of undergraduates, 190 students will be given the top award and receive 8,000 yuan each, with the remaining 5,300 students getting between 4,000 and 6,000 yuan each. For postgraduates, 40 people will be given 20,000 yuan, with the rest getting between 5,000 and 10,000 yuan, and for doctoral students, 20 will get 30,000 yuan, with the rest getting between 7,000 and 15,000 yuan. Tempted by a rapidly changing mainland China, more Hongkongers are going north to study or get married Kevin Lam Tsz-kam, 21, a final-year undergraduate studying political science at Renmin University in Beijing, said he thought the new conditions were “normal”. “The scholarships are special resources for Hong Kong students offered by the central government. And Hongkongers never pay tax to Beijing,” Lam, one of this year’s 40 scholarship winners from Hong Kong and Macau at the top-notch tertiary institution, said. Lam said he believed most Hongkongers like him would have no problems with the requirement and that the universities would not closely track the speech or behaviour of scholarship recipients. “Except if you do something outrageous publicly – online or in real life, and get caught,” Lam said. “The new requirements are more of a symbolic gesture in my opinion. Maybe the central government doesn’t want Hong Kong students on the mainland to follow the path of the small number of radical students in Hong Kong,” Lam said, referring to the involvement of young Hongkongers in calling for universal suffrage in the chief executive election, with some advocating for the city’s independence from China. Recently in the city, student activists handed out fliers and stickers before lessons began, promoting separatism at 10 secondary schools. Materials such as banners were put up at two tertiary institutions, after a similar campaign last year fizzled out. Education minister Kevin Yeung Yun-hung then warned of a “zero tolerance” policy towards independence advocacy on or around campuses. Beijing plan to give Hongkongers based on mainland same rights there raises questions Fung Wai-wah, president of the Professional Teachers’ Union in Hong Kong, slammed the scholarship move and accused Beijing of using money to win public support. “It is not necessary for them to do this, and they should not use a scholarship for making a political position,” he said. “A scholarship should be awarded based on results.” Fung added that such actions made it difficult for Beijing to inculcate real patriotism for China in the city. However, Wong Kwan-yu, president of the pro-Beijing Federation of Education Workers, said the changes were not likely to have a big impact on potential applicants, with the large majority of students going to the mainland not being supportive of Hong Kong independence. “If you are going to the mainland to study, you have to respect the system there,” he said. Aside from the new scholarship rules, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office added that a directive had been issued to all local governments on the mainland to grant Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan employees access to China’s housing fund. As members of the fund, employees and their employers would make monthly contributions of the same amount into an account that the employee could use to apply for low-interest housing loans to buy property on the mainland, or for rent or renovations. If they stopped working and left the mainland, they could withdraw all the cash from their account and take it with them.