Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim has asked 30 public school principals to ban Hong Kong independence activities in their schools, Apple Daily reported on Friday.

A teacher told the newspaper that their school’s principal then issued an order banning not only independence-related activities, but also discussion of the topic. “I am most afraid of this, that the principals are scared and so they interpret things themselves,” the teacher said. “The Education Bureau said that we need to talk about contemporary things by discussing positives and negatives– but now this makes it so that teachers don’t dare to discuss.”

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Education minister Eddie Ng. Photo: Stand News.

Ng made the request during a meeting with the 30 principals. He also met with the Chinese Ministry of Education in Beijing on Wednesday.

The Education Bureau recently said that teachers should not advocate for Hong Kong independence in schools, as they may lose their qualifications.

The bureau told Apple Daily that officials had met with staff from public schools and talked about the issue of independence being addressed in schools. The meetings were described as part of the regular discussions that take place between schools and the bureau.

The Kwun Tong Government Secondary School National Education Concern Group released a statement on Friday saying that they were very concerned with the government repeatedly bringing “the claws of politics” onto public school campuses.

“Education is part of Hong Kong’s internal affairs and absolutely does not need the interference of Beijing. Eddie Ng visiting the Ministry of Education and reporting to it, asking for support, is an action that severely damages the basis of One Country, Two Systems,” it said. “It also creates unnecessary pressure for Hong Kong’s education sector.”

Ng said on Thursday after meeting with officials from China’s Ministry of Education that the bureau stated clearly its stance that no activities related to independence should be found in schools. Ng said that while “everything can be discussed” under the guidance of a teacher, it must be done within the perspective of the Basic Law.

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.