LCQ2: Guard against activities advocating "Hong Kong independence" on school campuses
It has been reported that recently, there have been signs of resurgence of actions for "the promotion of Hong Kong independence on school campuses", which subsided for a while. Two groups which advocate Hong Kong independence ("pro-independence groups") have organised dozens of students to set up street booths outside the entrances of a number of tertiary institutions and secondary schools, and distribute leaflets printed with slogans such as "Only independence can protect Hong Kong and its people", "Independence can put Hong Kong back on the right course", etc. These groups have even publicly announced on social media that they will strive for "the proliferation of the promotion of independence on school campuses". Last month, the Education Bureau (EDB) stated that actions to publicise Hong Kong independence contravened the Basic Law, and must be stopped. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) as it has been reported that the aforesaid pro-independence groups have openly stated that they will press for Hong Kong independence, and they have also incited or abetted minor students and other people to set up street booths and distribute leaflets which promoted Hong Kong independence, whether the authorities have assessed if such acts have constituted concrete actions of pressing for Hong Kong independence, and have possibly contravened relevant local legislation; if they have assessed and the outcome is in the affirmative, whether law enforcement agencies will take law enforcement actions;
(2) whether the EDB has put in place measures, such as issuing guidelines, to assist schools in tackling the problem of pro-independence groups attempting to infiltrate into school campuses; if so, of the details; if not, whether the EDB will immediately formulate the relevant measures; and
(3) as it has been reported that some minor students have been incited or abetted to participate in activities to promote Hong Kong independence organised by such groups, whether the EDB will issue guidelines to schools across the territory and provide support to them to assist schools in rectifying, through counselling or education, these students' mistaken thought of identifying with Hong Kong independence?
The Preamble of the Basic Law spells out clearly that Hong Kong has been part of the territory of China since ancient times. Upholding national unity and territorial integrity, maintaining the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, and taking account of its history and realities, the People's Republic of China (PRC) decided that upon China's resumption of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) would be established and the Basic Law of the HKSAR of the PRC would be enacted in accordance with the provisions of Article 31 of the Constitution of the PRC.
Article 1 of the Basic Law clearly points out that the HKSAR is an inalienable part of the PRC. Article 12 of the Basic Law also clearly elucidates that the HKSAR shall be a local administrative region of the PRC, which shall enjoy a high degree of autonomy and come directly under the Central People's Government. These articles indicate clearly that Hong Kong has always been an inalienable part of China. At the social and economic levels, "one country, two systems" is the best institutional arrangement to ensure Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability after our return to the Motherland.
Everybody with a passion for Hong Kong has the responsibility to ensure that, here in Hong Kong, "one country, two systems" advances in the right direction, the obligation to say "no" to any attempt to threaten our country's sovereignty, security and development interests, as well as the duty to nurture our next generation into citizens with a sense of national identity, an affection for Hong Kong and a sense of social responsibility. Obviously, actions promoting "Hong Kong independence" undermine the "one country, two systems", contravene the Basic Law, and damage the relation between the Central People's Government and the HKSAR. These are against the development of Hong Kong and must be stopped.
Regarding the questions raised by the Hon Cheung Kwok-kwan, our reply is as follows:
(1) The HKSAR Government has stressed repeatedly that any proposals or actions advocating "Hong Kong independence" are in contravention of the constitutional order of Hong Kong. As pointed out in the Chief Executive's statement this September, "Hong Kong independence" runs against "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law as well as the overall and long-term interest of the society. As in the past, with regard to any acts that may constitute criminal offences, law enforcement agencies will handle such cases in accordance with the law.
(2) and (3) No groups should promote to students or try to infiltrate "Hong Kong independence" into school campuses, including the distribution of pro-independence leaflets in the vicinity of schools to influence students. Our stance all along is that any proposals or activities advocating "Hong Kong independence" should not be allowed in schools. We also request the education sector to guard against pro-independence activists from infiltrating into our schools, thus ensuring that our students can learn in a peaceful and safe environment free from interferences.
The EDB has all along maintained communication with schools on various student matters and offer them support and advice as and when necessary, including the "Hong Kong independence" incident on campus. If there is any group distributing pro-independence leaflets or related materials to students in the vicinity of a school, the school should arrange sufficient manpower nearby to keep a close watch on the situation. If the distribution takes place within a public housing estate or a private residential estate, the school should also notify the property management company of the incident. If the school has noticed that students have been disturbed, it may consider seeking assistance from relevant authorities (including law enforcement agencies) according to the situation. In fact, schools have gained considerable experience over the years in handling politicised incidents with appropriate responses. School principals and teachers have all along demonstrated professionalism in ensuring that students can study in a safe and orderly environment, are taught professionally and are offered counselling as needed.
In August 2016, we elucidated our stance in a letter addressed to principals and teachers of all secondary schools in Hong Kong, calling upon them to uphold professionalism in discharging their duties and protect students from being misled into taking part in the promotion of any activities that contravene the Basic Law or the law. The EDB officers meet with principals of the public sector and Direct Subsidy Scheme secondary schools from time to time. In these meetings, we discuss with the principals and advise them on the proposed approach to handling controversial issues, including "Hong Kong independence" and the distribution of pro-independence leaflets to students by some groups. In addition, the schools are urged to make the best endeavours to implement the Basic Law education effectively. The attendees of the meetings also share their past experience of dealing with similar cases and explore concertedly how to guide students in developing proper concepts about the above issues.
Through the Basic Law education and study of relevant subjects, students can learn, from historical, moral and legal perspectives, such important concepts as "one country, two systems", "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy. They can also become aware of the fact that Hong Kong shall not and could not be an independent or semi-autonomous political entity. If individual students are found distributing pro-independence leaflets or spreading/advocating such ideas, schools should offer appropriate counselling, including listening to what is on their mind. Should students have erroneous or extreme ideas, schools have duty to provide them with guidance, explaining patiently from historical, legal (with specific reference to the Basic Law), logical, consequential, realistic, national, global, and personal freedom and common well-being perspectives that Hong Kong is a local administrative region of the PRC, enjoying a high degree of autonomy. In addition, schools should inform parents of what have happened and both parties should work together to help the students gain a proper understanding of these concepts.
Ends/Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:27
Issued at HKT 17:27