The BBC found the Hong Kong public in a “restive” mood during party and state chairman Hu Jintao‘s recent visit to the territory, to mark the fifteenth anniversary of its handover, and cited some reasons: a wealth gap within society which – reportedly – outstrips all other developed nations, and freedom issues.
What probably makes things worse in Beijing’s views is that opinion polls state the public mood openly. The Hong Kong Standard, on June 29:
In a December 2011 survey conducted by the Public Opinion Programme at the University of Hong Kong, people identifying themselves as “Hong Kong citizens” outnumbered those who saw themselves as “Chinese citizens” by about 20 to 30 percentage points.
The proportion of those who identified themselves as “Chinese citizens” had dropped to 17 percent since 2000.
All that, the HK Standard suggested, after more positive trends, and until recent mainland development had, among Hong Kongers, casted doubt on the country they are supposed to embrace.
The Daily Telegraph quoted the University of Hong Kong’s poll, too: the 17 or rather 16.6 per cent of Hong Kongers who identified themselves first as Chinese citizens was the lowest level during the 15 years since the special administrative zone of seven million was returned to China in 1997 in a blaze of patriotic fervour.
I’m not aware of the numbers in 1997 or 1998, and maybe, the last line is mainly meant to make the current numbers more dramatic.
But reactions from Beijing seem to confirm that the trend is worrying the CCP.
When not all is well in Hong Kong, what can you do? Apply the things that work so successfully for you in mainland China. OK – you can’t do exactly that. You can’t simply arrest those who conduct the scandalous polls. But you can unleash your friends within the Hong Kong press. Have them call the professor in question a political fraudster with evil intentions. Suggest that his scholarship is a slave of political bribery.
And then get the shit you have hurled right back into your own face:
Chung gamely stood up for himself, and the feelings of the Hong Kong people, by rejecting “Cultural Revolution-style curses and defamations,” which had been lobbed by pro-Beijing newspapers. These, he wryly pointed out, are “not conducive to the building of Chinese national identity among Hong Kong people.”
He didn’t even get his hands dirty by reacting.
So what else can you do?
Oh, you can introduce patriotic education! Or rather, you can have your satellites in Hong Kong – the place with a high degree of autonomy – introduce Moral and National Education (MNE, 德育及國民教育). The efforts to that end had been going on for a while, and the Hong Kong government, under its new CEO and chief secretary, seems to be determined to see it through now. It is scheduled to begin in September this year, and to become compulsory in 2015.
Brainwashing is against Hong Kong’s core values, Channel News Asia quotes education secretary Eddie Ng, but on Sunday, one day after his statement,
Thousands of stroller-pushing Hong Kong parents and activists [..] protested a plan to introduce national education lessons, slamming it as a bid to brainwash children with Chinese propaganda.
Police estimates say that 19,000 protesters took part; and the organizers had yet to release their own estimates, Channel News Asia wrote yesterday.
A more recent report (i. e. of today) by Information Daily (formerly egovmonitor) quotes police estimates of 30,000 participants, and protesters as claiming that 90,000 people took to the streets. The particular curriculum
is initially based on a 34 page booklet which extols the virtue of the one party system in China and argues that only under the communist regime could society and economy improve,
writes Information Daily.
Hong Kong’s Sing Pao (成報) quotes a statement by a Civic Alliance against MNE (民间反对国民教育科大联盟) as the main organizer, also with a claim that 90,000 people took part in Sunday’s protests.
“Patriotic education” is meant to start with elementary school – hence the strollers among the demonstrators -, and shall foster a sense of affection for the country, Time quotes the Education Bureau’s curriculum guide.
The curriculum was devised by a body lead by another University of Hong Kong professor, Lee Chack-fan.
But one important tool seems to be missing in the educational equipment box – one which worked more efficiently than any other in mainland China: fear. So far, options to intimidate the Hong Kong public are limited.