Reflections on May Fourth
Dear Young Friends,
Reflections on May Fourth
May marks the end of the foggy spring and, with gentle breezes and warmer days, it ushers in the delightful summer. While we enjoy this wonderful early summer month, we must bear in mind the patriotic movement in China eighty-seven years ago on 4 May 1919. The May Fourth Movement, initiated by students in Beijing, quickly spread throughout the nation. It gave rise to an upsurge of nationalism. It advocated the spirit of science and democracy, and initiated a revaluation of traditional Chinese values and institutions. Its impact on our thought, our political and social systems, our culture and education is far-reaching. It is for this reason that 4 May was officially made the Chinese Youth Day by the People’s Republic of China in 1949 following its establishment to spread and promote the spirit of the May Fourth Movement.
What inspiration can the young people of Hong Kong get from the May Fourth Movement? Young people are full of vigour and vitality. They are the most valuable asset of the nation and the future masters of society. While contemplating this great event in history, young people in Hong Kong should learn from their forefathers their patriotism and commitment to the country and carry forward the spirit of May Fourth in the following ways:
(1) Be committed to our home country
The May Fourth Movement represents the rising concern of our people for their country and their contribution to the nation’s development. The movement, which started as a demonstration of the students of Peking University , caught the attention and won the support of the whole country. It eventually changed the course of political development of our nation. Today, with the great opportunities as well as challenges lie ahead, e.g. our successful economic achievements, rapid urban development and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, young people in Hong Kong should care more about our country. They should give full support, in spirit and in action, to help promote the development of the nation and to achieve great success.
(2) Be determined and persistent
The May Fourth Movement also embodies the determination and persistence of the Chinese people. In those days, the humiliation of the Chinese representatives by the big powers in the Paris Peace Conference triggered off mass demonstrations in China. People across the country supported and responded to this patriotic movement. In the end, our representatives refused to sign the peace treaty, sending out a clear and strong message that attracted the attention of the whole world. Young people should never give up when they encounter difficulties and adversities in their lives. They should be persevering and self-respecting, and hold fast to what they believe in. As long as they stand firm with their principles and work with confidence and determination, they will overcome difficulties and finally achieve success.
(3) Be diligent and innovative
The May Fourth Movement also shows how great the care and expectations the public has for the young people. With the arrest of the Peking University students by the Northern Warlords Government for denouncing the traitors at home, public opinions were whipped up in unanimous support for these young patriots. Finally, all the students were released. Young people in Hong Kong are luckier. They live in a stable social environment, having the chance to receive quality education, gain access to extensive information and enjoy the freedom of thought and speech in a pluralistic society. Young people should treasure every opportunity available. They should learn from their forefathers, who had the courage to explore and bring forth new ideas. They should work hard to realize their dreams and contribute to the community and the nation.
Educators should promote the May Fourth spirit and take upon themselves the responsibility to instil in their students the love for their country and enhance their personal qualities. We must encourage our students to learn more about the history and culture of our own country, and strengthen their national identity and sense of belonging to our motherland. We must develop the character of our students and help them grow up to be trustworthy and responsible Hong Kong residents, Chinese nationals and global citizens who care about commit to world affairs.
(Mrs Fanny Law)
Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower