Secretary for Education
The 15th of April this year marked the sixth National Security Education Day of our country, and the first of its kind since the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law. It is a significant event that merits our high regard and active support. With the onus to educate, schools are required to guide students in understanding that Hong Kong people, as Chinese nationals benefiting from the country’s staunch support, should safeguard national security, ensure the implementation of “One Country, Two Systems” under the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”, and contribute to the prosperity, stability and sustainable development of both Hong Kong society and the country.
Safeguarding national security and fulfilling national responsibilities
History tells us that only when a country maintains stability can it achieve prosperity and cultural vibrancy. The country always comes before the family, and families flourish when the country is prosperous. National security therefore intertwines with the future and destiny of every family and the Chinese nation as a whole. In the twentieth century, dramatic changes took place in our country. There were times when the Chinese people suffered immensely because of invasion by foreign powers and many had to flee their homes. It was our forefathers’ courage and strength that enabled our country to revive and thrive. Nowadays, our country has become the second largest economy in the world, and Hong Kong has evolved as an international financial centre. These are hard-won achievements. Without national security, how could a country possibly maintain social stability, develop its economy and preserve its culture?
As an inalienable part of China, Hong Kong has a strong bond with our country. Under Article 31 of its Constitution, the country established the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), and enshrined the principle of “One Country, Two Systems” in the Basic Law. For the steadfast and successful implementation of “One Country, Two Systems”, the Hong Kong National Security Law has been put in place to guarantee national security and social stability, thereby enabling people to lead a peaceful and fulfilling life.
National security covers a wide scope. It is not confined to wars and conflicts, or sovereignty and territorial integrity. Such areas as economic security, cultural security, social security, ecological security, cyber security and technological security are also integral parts of the national security framework. While Hong Kong was challenged by a number of crises (such as sharp economic downturn induced by internal or external factors) after its return to China, thanks to our country’s support in policies and other aspects, we were able to rebound every time. Besides, in case Hong Kong people unfortunately fall victim to accidents, natural disasters, etc. in other countries, the local Chinese embassies/consulates will provide assistance to ensure their personal safety. Amid the COVID-19 epidemic that has threatened our health and affected our daily lives, the Central Government has thrown its weight behind Hong Kong’s preventive and control efforts, strengthening our fight against the virus through solid backup in testing and vaccination. All these demonstrate the country’s care and support for us, and it is our obligation to fulfil our responsibilities as its nationals by protecting it and safeguarding its national security.
Reflecting on social upheavals and strengthening national security education
Article 9 of the Hong Kong National Security Law clearly stipulates that the HKSAR shall strengthen its work on safeguarding national security and prevention of terrorist activities, and the Government of the HKSAR shall take necessary measures to strengthen public communication, guidance, supervision and regulation over matters concerning national security, including those relating to schools, social organisations, etc. Meanwhile, Article 10 states that the HKSAR shall promote national security education in schools and universities and through social organisations, the media, the internet and other means to raise Hong Kong residents’ awareness of national security and the obligation to abide by the law.
Various sections of Hong Kong society have been afflicted by the year-long social unrest which arose from opposition to the proposed legislative amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance in June 2019. Messages spreading the independence of Hong Kong, violence and disrespect for the law went rampant in society and the cyberworld. Even schools, supposedly peaceful and harmonious places for learning, were not immune. Many educators had to deal with related incidents occurring on campus and address their adverse impacts. Though the disturbance has been quelled with the efforts of the Government and the community, it is truly saddening to see that over 10 000 persons have been arrested for breaking the law, and among them are teachers and students. For professional educators and me, this is simply hard to forget. Still, we need to learn the lesson and tackle the problems at source by fostering in society and schools a deeper understanding of our country, and a greater sense and awareness of national identity and national security.
Launching national security education with a multi-pronged approach
All countries of the world attach importance to national security and regard nurturing citizens who respect the motherland and its law as a prime objective of education. National security education is part and parcel of national education. For us, it is imperative to help students develop a sense of belonging towards the nation and the Chinese race, a sense of national identity, as well as an awareness of and a sense of responsibility for safeguarding national security. In this way, students will grow up to be good citizens who identify with the country, respect the rule of law and abide by the law.
Building on the foundation of national education as well as Constitution and Basic Law education, the Education Bureau (EDB) will continue to adopt a multi-pronged approach to support schools in launching national security education. Among others, curriculum documents will be released to illustrate the fundamental concepts of national security education and the ways to achieve natural coherence and organic integration between subjects, and teaching exemplars, learning and teaching resources and suggestions on activities will be provided for schools to promote national security education within and beyond the classroom. Moreover, the EDB will make continuous arrangements for teachers to receive proper training, and render professional support and advice to schools on all fronts through school visits, teachers’ learning circles, etc.
The EDB has issued a letter to all schools in the territory, advising that more related learning activities could be organised on and around the National Security Education Day to promote learning through active involvement. For example, ceremonies for raising the national and regional flags and playing and singing the national anthem could be held to heighten students’ sense of national identity; the fundamental concepts of national security could be explained to students in morning assemblies, class teacher sessions and other lessons; and different sorts of learning activities may be conducted to motivate students to pursue self-directed learning and make flexible use of the information available. On top of this, the School Bulletin Board Design Competition on National Security and the 2021 National Security Education Day Online Quiz Competition being held by the EDB are open to all schools and students.
Upholding national security and safeguarding our home
We take great pride in being part of a country with a rich history of over five thousand years. I hope students will appreciate that, as Chinese nationals, they are obliged to keep enriching themselves, acquire an understanding of the Chinese culture, tradition and history, and contribute to society and our country. While the EDB and the school sector are dedicating continued efforts in this regard, support and collaboration of all sectors in the community are indispensable. I take this opportunity to call upon every Hong Kong citizen to fully support the activities of the National Security Education Day, and help foster the spirit of “upholding national security and safeguarding our home”.
11 April 2021