Education centre with aim to promote Chinese national identity opens in Hong Kong
Director denies any political agenda behind the Centre of National History Education (Hong Kong)
A new education centre that aims to foster a strong sense of national identity with Hong Kong’s youth opened its doors on Friday.
The Centre of National History Education (Hong Kong) in Sai Wan was established after repeated calls from state leaders, including President Xi Jinping, to strengthen national identity and patriotism among Hongkongers.
However, its director, Ho Hon-kuen, denied there was any political “mission” behind the centre and said it received no money from Beijing’s liaison office.
“Our only mission is to make sure citizens have a basic knowledge about their own country,” Ho said. The centre aims “to pass on the history and culture of China, build up a national identity, and allow the next generation to uphold warmth and respect for the nation,” Ho said.
The annual cost of running the centre was expected to be more than HK$1,000,000 (US$127,430), which will be continue to be raised through donations.
Tan Tieniu, deputy director of the liaison office, and Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, the city’s No 2 official, were among the guests at Friday’s inauguration.
In 2016, Beijing loyalist Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, the city’s former sole member on China’s top legislative body, also co-founded the Endeavour Education Centre to educate young people about Chinese history.
Ho, of the concern group Education Convergence, and a principal at Elegantia College, was in the running to be a local deputy to the national legislature, National People’s Congress, but was passed over last year.
Lawrence Lau Juen-yee, an economist and former vice chancellor of Chinese University, and Chang Hsin-kang, a former president of City University, along with Lee Chack-fan, pro-vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, were among the list of honorary advisers to the centre.
Management committee members included, Lau Chi-pang, a historian at Lingnan University and chairman of the Advisory Committee on Built Heritage Conservation, and Chiu Yu-lok, a history professor of the Open University, with historian Professor Joseph Ting Sun Pao listed as a supervisor.
A series of talks, mainland tours and other events would be launched to educate youngsters, teachers and the public, Ho said.
Speakers were expected to include historian Professor Wang Gungwu, HKU’s former vice chancellor.
Asked if controversial incidents such as the Chinese civil war and Tiananmen Square crackdown would be included, Ho said: “We won’t avoid them.”
In a recent poll by HKU, only 38 per cent of Hongkongers said they were proud to be a citizen of China, with the figure dropping to 16 per cent for people aged between 18 and 29.