By KEN MORITSUGU, Related Press
BEIJING (AP) — Hong Kong is getting ready to introduce new center college textbooks that can deny the Chinese language territory was ever a British colony. China’s Communist rulers say the semi-autonomous metropolis and the close by former Portuguese colony of Macao had been merely occupied by overseas powers and that China by no means relinquished sovereignty over them.
It isn’t a brand new place for China, however the transfer is an additional instance of Beijing’s willpower to implement its interpretation of historical past and occasions and inculcate patriotism because it tightens its grip over Hong Kong following huge protests demanding democracy in 2019.
“Hong Kong has been Chinese language territory since historic instances,” says one new textbook seen by the AP. “Whereas Hong Kong was occupied by the British following the Opium Conflict, it remained Chinese language territory.”
It’s considered one of 4 units of textbooks being provided to varsities to switch these presently in use, all stating the identical place, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Publish newspaper reported earlier this week.
Hong Kong was a British colony from 1841 till its handover to Chinese language rule in 1997, excluding Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945. Its colonial standing was the results of a pair of nineteenth century treaties signed on the finish of the primary and second Opium Wars, together with the granting of a 99-year lease in 1898 to the New Territories, which enormously expanded the dimensions of the colony.
China’s Communist Celebration, which seized energy throughout a civil struggle in 1949, says it by no means acknowledged what it calls the “unequal treaties” that the previous Qing Dynasty was compelled to signal following army defeats.
Within the late twentieth century — with China unwilling to increase the lease on the New Territories, and the colony not viable with out them — Britain entered into protracted and infrequently contentious negotiations with Beijing over circumstances for the return of Hong Kong to Chinese language rule.
Finally, China took management of Hong Kong in 1997 beneath a “one nation, two methods” association that might hold the town’s financial, political and judicial methods distinct from these in mainland China for 50 years. That was specified by a 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration registered with the United Nations, though China now refuses to acknowledge the settlement.
HAS THIS ISSUE COME UP BEFORE?
In 1972, simply months after the China seat on the United Nations was transferred to Beijing from the Republic of China authorities that fled to Taiwan in the course of the civil struggle, the federal government acted to take away Hong Kong and Macao, which reverted to Chinese language rule in 1999, from a U.N. listing of colonies, successfully stripping them of their proper to self-determination.
At a time when European nations had granted independence to different colonies, China feared the identical may occur to the British and Portuguese enclaves it needed again. “The settlement of the questions of Hong Kong and Macao is totally inside China’s sovereign proper and does in no way fall beneath the atypical class of ‘Colonial Territories,'” China’s consultant mentioned on the time.
Mary Gallagher, who teaches Chinese language research on the College of Michigan, mentioned then-Chinese language chief Mao Zedong needed to make sure that Hong Kong would stay a part of China. “So Hong Kong strikes between the Chinese language empire and the British empire, however loses its proper to find out its personal future,” she mentioned.
WHY IS HONG KONG CHANGING TEXTBOOKS NOW?
The brand new textbooks are a part of broader modifications to schooling following the 2019 protests, through which many college students participated and a few performed management roles.
The texts are for liberal research lessons, which the federal government overhauled final 12 months after pro-Beijing lawmakers and supporters mentioned they inspired opposition and activist thought. The lessons now deal with themes equivalent to nationwide safety, patriotism and id.
The textbooks promote the official view that the protest motion was the results of overseas agitation and threatened nationwide safety. The Beijing authorities used such arguments to cross a sweeping Nationwide Safety Regulation for Hong Kong in 2020 curbing free speech, criticism of authorities and political opposition.
Authorities have launched a Nationwide Safety Schooling Day on April 15, with college students inspired to be taught extra about nationwide safety and participate in academic actions that emphasize the significance of defending China.
The brand new textbooks are a part of a push to carry Hong Kong’s institutional values extra carefully consistent with these of mainland China, particularly within the areas of politics and historical past. More and more, Chinese language chief Xi Jinping is imposing his imaginative and prescient of strongly nationalistic and more and more authoritarian rule on the area.
China has sought to eradicate any reminiscence of the army’s 1989 bloody suppression of student-led protests centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Sq., citing pandemic considerations to ban as soon as big public commemorations in Hong Kong on the June 4 anniversary.
“The Communist Celebration has a monopoly of the reality and of historical past in China,” mentioned Steve Tsang, a Chinese language politics specialist on the College of Oriental and African Research in London. “Within the Xi strategy to historical past, information are merely incidental. Solely interpretation issues. And just one interpretation is allowed.”
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