Actions promoting Hong Kong independence not only contravene the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, and undermine the “one country, two systems” principle, but also damage relations between Beijing and Hong Kong, the Education Bureau (EDB) said.
Such actions are detrimental to the overall and long-term interests of Hong Kong society, and therefore they must be stopped before our students are affected, the bureau said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
The EDB’s strong response came hours after two pro-independence groups, Studentlocalism and the Hong Kong National Front, distributed flyers outside school campuses calling for Hong Kong to separate itself from China, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Printed on the flyers were messages such as “the only way to protect Hong Kong and its people is independence” and “Hong Kong can return to the right path by going independent”.
A number of secondary students reportedly distributed the leaflets at the gates of their schools in Yuen long, Kwai Chung and Sha Tin.
Volunteers from more than 10 tertiary institutions and secondary schools joined in distributing the flyers outside the schools, according to the two groups.
Meanwhile, a banner calling for “Hong Kong independence” was seen outside the campus of Caritas Institute of Higher Education, while the groups also set up booths along the streets in several districts to advocate their ideology.
A convenor of the Hong Kong National Front said about 2,000 flyers and 10,000 stickers demanding self-determination were produced for the Tuesday’s distribution, adding that they initiated a similar move last year.
The EDB said it is keeping in close touch with the schools, and the education sector as a whole, to deal with the issue and provide support to them when necessary.
School administrators must ensure that students can study in a safe and peaceful environment and are taught professionally without interference from messages that contravene the Basic Law, the bureau said.
The EDB said it believes tertiary institutions have the responsibility as well as the ability to deal properly with such incidents on their respective campuses, while looking after their students’ interests.
Legislator Ip Kin-yuen, who represents the education sector, called on pro-independence groups to stop promoting their ideology on campus.
Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies, said distributing flyers that advocate independence is illegal in principle, and it will be hard for the Hong Kong government and central authorities to just ignore the incident.
The timing of distribution of the flyers was sensitive because Li Fei, chairman of the Basic Law Committee and deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, is set to give a speech at a seminar on the Basic Law on Thursday.
Li is expected to talk about Hong Kong’s role and mission under the Chinese Constitution and the Basic Law.
The seminar is part of the activities marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty.
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