A representative for a professional educators’ group has said that the failure of Chinese history education to promote patriotism in schools is partly to blame for remarks by Youngspiration lawmakers-elect, who read the People’s Republic of China as “People’s Re-Fu*king of Chee-na” in last Wednesday’s oath-taking.

Ho Hon-kuen, a Chinese history teacher and the vice-chairman of the pro-establishment group Education Convergence, said on Sunday that past reforms of Hong Kong’s education system and Chinese history curriculum had caused some young people to think that the word “China” is unimportant.

Ho Hon-kuen education convergence
Ho Hon-kuen. File

Ho said that Youngspiration lawmakers-elect Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung Chung-hang should “bow and apologise” for insulting China and disrespecting Chinese people.

But Under-secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said that it is not appropriate to criticise the education system or Chinese history education based on the opinions of two individuals.

The official added that he believed most secondary school students likely do not agree with Yau and Leung.

‘Legislative violence’

Ho said that his group recently surveyed educators on the oath-taking, with nearly 80 per cent of 3,000-plus respondents saying that Yau and Leung should resign, and 65 per cent saying that they should publicly apologise, RTHK reported.

In addition, 95 per cent of respondents thought that their conduct during the oath-taking did not represent the attitude of Hong Kong youth, Ho said.

Yau Wai-ching unfurls flag at LegCo. Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

Ho added that members of the education sector are afraid of speaking up against violence in society, and that the conduct of the lawmakers-elect was a form of “legislative violence.”

In last week’s oath-taking, Yau and Leung referred to China as “Chee-na,”  pronounced similarly to “Shina,” an archaic Japanese name for China that still bears an offensive meaning to most Chinese people.

The two independence-leaning politicians have been under attack by the pro-Beijing camp, and a petition signed by more than 44,000 called for their resignation.

Beijing mouthpieces Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po have demanded Yau’s and Leung’s disqualification as lawmakers on the grounds that their pro-independence stance has contravened the Basic Law, which stipulates Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of China.

Ho wrote in Ming Pao last month that Hong Kong independence “clearly violates the constitution and the law,” and criticised the government for not issuing guidelines to schools on how to handle pro-independence incidents.

beijing mouthpieces yau wai ching youngspiration
Ta Kun Pao and Wen Wei Po called for Yau and Leung’s resignation on Monday. Photo: Stand News.

Ho ran for the functional constituency seat representing the education sector in 2012, but lost to pro-democracy lawmaker Yip Kin-yuen.

Established in 1994, the Education Convergence is a membership-based group for principals and teachers from across all levels of schools. Its work includes policy research and participation in public consultations.

According to government data, there are about 67,000 teachers in the territory’s kindergartens, primary, secondary, and special schools.

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Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.