Published: 10:24, July 31, 2023 | Updated: 10:50, July 31, 2023
National security education must be emphasized
By Edmond Sy

President Xi Jinping’s  response to Pui Kiu Middle School pupils earlier this week struck a particularly stirring note, especially as the school’s tradition of patriotism dates back to the end of the World War II. 

Established by a group of patriots in 1946, the school’s long decades of inculcating patriotism is an object lesson for all educators.

Xi wrote, “Patriotism is the core of the spirit of the Chinese nation. Hong Kong compatriots have a glorious tradition of patriotism and love for Hong Kong.” 

So it is evident that cultivating patriotism is the premise of a successful national security education, especially in the challenging times of economic uncertainties and geopolitical tensions.

The upcoming elections in the United States next year could cause further geopolitical uncertainties in the Asia-Pacific region, and Hong Kong could find itself trapped in geopolitical conflict again. 

To be well-prepared for unexpected challenges, the city must equip the younger generation with sufficient knowledge of national security.

Over recent years, Hong Kong has made multipronged efforts to enhance national security education. 

The Education Bureau issued in 2021 the Curriculum Framework of National Security Education, which provides a complete set of guidelines for the implementation of national security education in primary and secondary schools, initiating a fundamental transformation in the school curriculum that facilitates the propagation of national security knowledge and creation of a new value system that will enhance students’ sense of civic responsibility. 

For university students, the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, the Basic Law and the National Security Law for Hong Kong will be included as an important part of university curricula to cultivate law-abiding graduates. Since September 2022, 11 universities in Hong Kong have offered courses and extracurricular activities related to national security education.

Although many resources have been allocated to courses and activities promoting national security, there is room for improvement in national security education in Hong Kong.

First of all, national security awareness among members of society must be further strengthened. Grenville Cross, a former public prosecutor, warned in his June 13 article in China Daily that “it is invariably in the public interest that offenders be brought to justice, no matter how long it takes. …The people who wrought havoc to our city must not be allowed, under one guise or another, to escape their just deserts.” 

Those who called for the Department of Justice to avoid prosecuting those arrested during the 2019 unrest should read Cross’ column carefully before voicing their inappropriate opinions. 

Meanwhile, many people have been deceived by the Western media’s demonization of the NSL, and have harbored hostility and skepticism toward the law. 

Many Hong Kong people lack a holistic view of the potential threats to national security, reflecting an inadequate understanding of national security issues among students, teachers and school administrators.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government’s coordination and management of national security education in postsecondary institutions is inadequate; specific guidelines and evaluation criteria are needed for the government to play its role well.

Apparently, national security education in schools, especially colleges and universities, is superficial and sometimes misleading. 

Some faculty in some institutions do not bother to hide their resistance to and reluctance to promote national security education, while others restrict national security education to the teaching of China’s history and culture, its legal system and constitution, leaving national security issues untouched. 

In view of these problems, the HKSAR government, under the guidance and supervision of the central authorities, should fulfill its responsibility by developing a detailed and feasible framework for national security education for postsecondary educational institutions. 

The central authorities have a complete set of guidelines in this regard, with specified objectives and evaluation measures. 

It is an excellent reference tool for the HKSAR government. 

In addition, Hong Kong can also take its cue from countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Russia and Israel, where national security, legal studies and policymaking are offered as majors at universities for academic research and the training of professionals. Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and Singapore have a more structured national security education system than Hong Kong.

Social order has been restored since promulgation of the NSL, but incitement to endanger national security is still a real threat, and seditious activities continue in less obvious forms. Criminals who fled the SAR and those who are proxies of hostile Western forces are exerting their influence through some 100 overseas anti-China organizations that emerged after the 2019 turmoil. They are inciting and colluding with outlaws in the city to sabotage peace and prosperity.

It should be borne in mind that Hong Kong, which is at the forefront of geopolitical conflicts, should safeguard national security at all costs. The closer to the goal of national rejuvenation, the better equipped Hong Kong should be to resist the attacks of the hostile forces. As such, the importance of national security education cannot be overemphasized.

The author is vice-president of HKCPPCCYA, and a doctoral student in public law at Hong Kong University. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.