New schoolbooks in Hong Kong will teach students that the territory was never a British colony, the South China Morning Post reported, as Beijing seeks to tighten its control over the territory.
The four sets of textbooks for a class on citizenship say the Chinese government never recognized the 19th-century treaties that handed Britain control of Hong Kong, the report said.
Textbook publishers are responsible for choosing the appropriate materials for schoolbooks in accordance with official guidelines, the Hong Kong Education Bureau said in a statement.
The Chinese Communist Party refers to agreements signed by the Qing Dynasty and later governments that made concessions to foreign governments, such as land control, as “unequal treaties.”
Beijing’s refusal to recognize them informs its belief that Hong Kong matters are strictly domestic.
Some in China also hold the view that admitting Hong Kong was ever a colony would open the door to its independence, a demand of some demonstrators.
Britain took Hong Kong Island during the First Opium War (1839-1842) and later signed a treaty that gave it control over the adjoining New Territories for 99 years. That agreement ended on July 1, 1997, an anniversary that is marked every year in the territory.
This year’s event might be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), whose government has expanded control over Hong Kong through measures including a revamp of the electoral system.
Yesterday at her final weekly news briefing, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) would not confirm whether her administration has created the conditions needed for a visit from Xi.
“We, of course, would like to have a cheerful atmosphere to celebrate the reunification,” she said.
Beijing has blamed, in part, the territory’s schools for fostering dissent that fueled 2019 protests against the Chinese Communist Party’s increasing influence.
Since that unrest, sweeping changes to the curriculum have seen children taught to memorize offenses criminalized by the National Security Law, a National Security Education Day launched in schools and teachers advised to report on children who breach the law.
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