17 February 2019
A significant percentage of Hong Kong secondary students have a problem with the issue of national identity, a survey shows. Photo: Reuters, HKEJ
A significant percentage of Hong Kong secondary students have a problem with the issue of national identity, a survey shows. Photo: Reuters, HKEJ

Three in 10 HK students have national identity issue: survey

While most Hong Kong secondary students have good awareness of mainland China and stay in touch with social developments there, a significant percentage of them still have a problem with the issue of national identity, according to a survey.

A poll conducted among secondary school pupils by the Education University of Hong Kong showed 95.1 percent of the respondents had visited the mainland.

Eighty-five percent said they are capable of reading simplified Chinese characters, and 70 percent said they used WeChat app, the most popular instant-messaging service in the mainland.

Nearly one in 10 of them expressed interest in enlisting in the Chinese Liberation Army, while 17.6 percent said they might be interested in working for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

However, while most of the respondents seemed to have a good grasp of China’s national conditions, unlike some polls which had suggested the opposite, the survey found there was an identity issue among the secondary students.

Asked whether they think being a Hongkonger and being a Chinese is compatible, 36.6 percent said “moderately acceptable”, while another 28.3 percent called that “totally impossible” and 34.9 percent said it is “possible”.

For the survey, which was commissioned by the New People’s Party, researchers from Education University’s Academy of Hong Kong Studies sent questionnaires to Secondary 4 and 5 students at eleven schools between October last year and February 2018.

The poll was aimed at getting a handle on how the students perceive China and how they see themselves in relation to the country, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

A total of 1,279 students, 95 percent of whom were born after the year 2000, responded to the questionnaires.

Although more than half of the respondents believed there is a high chance for China to become a global powerhouse in the future, more than half also said they are not willing to work in the mainland or settle there, according to the survey findings unveiled Tuesday.

In addition, the survey found that only 15.4 percent of the students agreed that Hong Kong should implement national education.

Meanwhile, less than 20 percent of the respondents agreed that Chinese history should become an independent and required subject in secondary schools.

Discussing the survey findings, Professor Lui Tai-lok, director of Education University’s Academy of Hong Kong Studies, said it is not wrong to say that young people have weak sense of national identity because they lack knowledge of the nation.

Society must refresh efforts to find out the real reason for the national identity problem, he said.

There is still a chance to change the situation, given that many young people seem to take a neutral position, according to Lui.

New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said it is not surprising that most students are inclined to choose to work in Hong Kong over the mainland, given that wages are higher here on average.

Ip said what pleases her about the survey result is that it shows that young Hongkongers have closer interconnections with the mainland than what people might generally assume.

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