Hong Kong’s largest teachers’ union has established a working group to promote Chinese history and culture in the education. It will be tasked with fostering “affection for home and country” among students.

The move is the latest in a series of measures taken this week by the union to redirect its approach after the government cut ties with it over the weekend over its political leaning.

SKH St James’ Primary School on National Security Education Day. Photo: GovHK.

The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (HKPTU) announced the formation of the working group on Thursday, saying that the move was needed to implement its new direction of focusing on education and teachers’ rights.

The group will promote a “positive understanding” of Chinese culture and history among the union’s 95,000 members and foster students’ love for the country.

“The working group will prepare different activities to promote a positive understanding of Chinese history, culture and its national situation, as well as cultivate students’ affection for their home and country,” its announcement on Thursday read.

Chinese history textbooks. Photo: Inmedia via C.C.2.0.

The group will be headed by the union’s former chair Cheung Man-kwong, while retired Chinese history teacher Chan Hon-sum will serve as a consultant. The group will be convened by veteran history teachers Chen Yan-kai and Cheung Wong.

The establishment of the working group follows the imposition a new national security curriculum in the city’s schools to instil a greater sense of “patriotism” and “national identity” among students, as part of a government push to follow the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Increased political pressure

The move comes one day after the HKPTU withdrew from the city’s largest pro-democracy trade union coalition and an international network of educators’ unions.

The union has been the target of increased pressure and criticism by authorities for its political leaning in recent days, with the Education Bureau cutting ties with the group and Chief Executive Carrie Lam accusing it of politicising the city’s schools.

Photo: NowTV screenshot.

The bureau’s decision last Saturday came within hours of Chinese state media outlets likening the union to a “poisonous tumour” and calling for it to be “eradicated,” though local authorities denied any interference.

Lam has declined to comment over whether authorities are investigating the union for potential breaches of the national security law.

The group had been involved in pro-democracy demonstrations in recent years, and had been outspoken about government pressure on the education sector, previously accusing authorities of using the profession as a “scapegoat” for the 2019 protests.

Rhoda Kwan

Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.