A Chinese provincial government is planning to send “politically correct” teachers to educate students in Hong Kong and Macau, shocking netizens in those territories.
Both were former European colonies that returned to Chinese rule, in 1997 and 1999 respectively, with Beijing promising to preserve their autonomy and essential freedoms.
The news comes as Beijing announced that it would enact a national security law in Hong Kong, drawing local concern that the proposal would enable Beijing to clamp down on dissent.
Netizens were outraged to learn that China’s education system was leaching into their local schools through such arrangements.
In fact, it has been more than fifteen years since the Chinese regime first sent teachers to educate students in Hong Kong. The program is funded by Hong Kong taxpayers, but the teaching materials are decided by Beijing.
Hunan Recruiting Order
An internal document was widely shared on the Chinese internet in late May. It was issued by the Hunan provincial education department to its local city branches—the education bureaus in Changsha, Hengyang, Zhuzhou, and Chenzhou cities.
On May 26, several Hong Kong media quoted Hong Kong officials, who confirmed the veracity of the document.
It ordered teachers to be recruited from local schools to teach at nursery schools, primary schools, middle schools, and high schools in Hong Kong and Macau. The two territories’ education bureaus would decide where the teachers would be assigned to work.
The Hunan document attracted attention in Hong Kong because of its criteria for the teachers, the program costs, and the content they would teach.
“The teachers must hold a solid political opinion,” the document read. “First, the teachers must adhere to the principle of ‘one country, two systems’ and love the country,” it continued. Beijing promised to uphold Hong Kong and Macau’s autonomy under this framework after the territories returned to Chinese sovereignty. But in recent years, the Chinese regime has cited the principle to justify increasing encroachment on the territories.
Under this program, teachers will stay in Hong Kong and Macau for one year. If needed, the term can be extended, but it cannot be longer than two years.
The instructors are hired from state-run schools in mainland China. The document requested that the mainland schools retain these teachers’ positions.
“State-run schools should pay the teacher’s salary and allowance [when the teacher works in Hong Kong and Macau]… Every month, the Hong Kong Education Bureau or Macau Education and Youth Bureau will pay each teacher no less than 30,000 HK dollars or Macau Pataca [$3,870 or $3,760] as living expenses. On top of these, Hong Kong or Macau will arrange the teachers’ accommodations or provide rental subsidies,” the document stated.
The mainland teachers will observe and train the instructors in Hong Kong and Macau, and evaluate their teaching materials.
Beijing and Hong Kong’s Cooperation
In fact, Beijing authorities launched a “Mainland–Hong Kong Teachers Exchange and Collaboration Programme,” which invites mainland teachers to train Hong Kong instructors, in 2005.
The Hong Kong Education Bureau introduced on its official website that the program first covered primary and secondary schools. In 2007, the program was extended to kindergartens and nursery schools.
Several provincial governments routinely select teachers to send to Hong Kong. In all their official announcements, the first criteria of the selected teachers is the same: being politically correct—that is, following the Party’s policies on Hong Kong.
The Shanxi provincial education department issued a notice to each city in the province as well as three universities that train teachers, on April 27, 2015. The department would send five teachers to Hong Kong and six teachers to Macau. The first criteria for the teachers was “having good political skills.”
The Hainan provincial education department published its notice to recruit teachers for Hong Kong and Macau in May 2019, in which it requested that teachers must “have a firm political stance… support the central government’s policies on Hong Kong and Macau, and be Chinese Communist Party members.”
The Sichuan provincial education department also issued a similar notice on April 8, 2020, stating that teachers must “adhere to the policy of ‘one country, two systems,’ and love our country.”
Hongkongers previously protested Beijing’s attempts to launch a controversial moral and national education curriculum in 2012, which proposed teaching students that “Hongkongers are Chinese and should devote themselves to the [People’s Republic of] China.
Hongkongers feared that the curriculum would amount to political brainwashing. The Hong Kong government eventually scrapped the plans.