Foreign Native-speaking English Teachers (NETs) at Hong Kong government schools could be required to swear allegiance to the city, as the authorities look to expand the civil servants’ loyalty pledge to cover all government employees.

The Secretary for Civil Service Patrick Nip said on Monday that temporary and short-term contractors hired by the government will join over 177,000 public servants to declare allegiance to the HKSAR and vow to uphold the Basic Law. But the minister did not give details on when and how the requirement will be imposed.

Secretary for Civil Service Patrick Nip (middle). Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

In response to HKFP‘s enquiries, the Civil Service Bureau said workers appointed on non-civil service terms by the government should be considered public officers, who are required to pledge allegiance to the city under Article 6 of the Beijing-enacted national security law.

“[T]heir duties are comparable to that of civil servants,” the bureau said.

The bureau told HKFP that whether a government employee has to make a declaration at this stage depends on their employment terms. The authorities are focusing on the handling of arrangements for incumbent public servants to take an oath or sign a declaration, and matters linked to the requirement for staffers outside the civil service “will be dealt with later.”

File photo: Tom Grundy.

“For those appointed on non-civil service terms (including Native-speaking English teachers), they will not be required to make the declaration at this stage and we will handle the relevant matter at a later stage,” it said.

HKFP has reached out to the Native English Speaking Teachers’ Association for comment.

According to the Education Bureau, NETs are appointed on a two-year contact, usually beginning and ending in mid-August. The contract is subject to renewal after it expires. Most NETs are foreigners, and those at government schools are on the civil servant pay scale.

Last Friday, the government said over 4,000 civil servants had vowed loyalty, including high-ranking officials. The remaining ones have to respond to their department’s letter within four weeks and sign a document which states they will bear allegiance to the HKSAR, be dedicated to their duties and be responsible to the government.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.