Student groups have slammed the Education Bureau for suppressing talk of Hong Kong independence in schools in a joint statement on Tuesday. The statement was issued after the Education Bureau warned teachers that they may lose their qualifications if they advocate Hong Kong independence in schools.

The statement, published by Studentlocalism on Facebook, said: “We are very proud that the Education Bureau has advertised Hong Kong independence so strongly, letting it appear in mainstream media so many times.”

studentlocalist statement on Facebook
Studentlocalist’s joint statement on Facebook. Photo: Facebook screencap.

“Regarding the Education Bureau’s statement that if teachers advocate Hong Kong independence, they will be stripped of their registration – it is completely ridiculous. How can a teacher’s professional qualification be tied to his or her political view?” it said.

See also: Teachers should guide discussion of HK independence in the correct direction, says CY Leung

“Furthermore, the statement said that Hong Kong independence did not fit the Basic Law, and it is illegal to advocate Hong Kong independence in schools… The constitution is for regulating the government, not the people – we have never heard of a constitution of the people,” it added.

basic law
Photo: Wikicommons/HKFP remix.

It was co-signed by 14 concern groups from schools such as Wah Yan College Hong Kong, the Queen’s College Old Boy’s Association Secondary School, and the Salesian English School.

‘Cannot poison our children’

The statement comes as mainland officials speak out about Hong Kong independence. Wang Zhenmin, the Director-General of the Department of Law of the China Liaison Office, told local media that although advocates of Hong Kong independence violated the law, the government did not take any action. However, they could “see that it was pushing the boundaries,” he said.

Wang Zhenmin
Wang Zhenmin. Photo: RTHK screencap.

He also said that the idea should not be let into policy, legislation, the justice system, or primary and secondary schools.

It “cannot poison our children,” he said. “I go to school to learn knowledge, to learn scientific knowledge, not to learn about these problems that don’t exist. Would you be willing to let your relatives send their children to learn these things once they get to school? I don’t think a single country in the world would do so,” he added.

Zhao Dacheng
Zhao Dacheng. Photo: RTHK screencap.

Zhao Dacheng, the vice minister of the Ministry of Justice, also said that Hong Kong independence does not represent the opinion of most Hongkongers and that “there is no room” for discussion of Hong Kong independence. “We are one race, and we should feel a sense of dignity… which is a high sense of identification with the country,” said Zhao.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.