Lau Siu-kai: National security education key to Hong Kong's future

One of the lamentable facts since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland is the almost complete absence of national security education in Hong Kong. The notion of national security is weak or even non-existent among a majority of Hongkongers, especially among the young people. Hong Kong’s political opposition has all along tried very hard to instil the idea that national security is equivalent to the security of the Chinese Communist regime. They oppose strenuously and unscrupulously the introduction of not only national security education in the schools and in the community, but also any form of national education, Basic Law education and education on the national constitution.


Events in Hong Kong in the past decade have starkly demonstrated the detrimental consequences of the absence of national security education in Hong Kong. In effect, in many ways Hong Kong has already become a base of subversion threatening the security of the CPC regime and the motherland. External and local hostile forces have aggressively exploited the loopholes in skimpy national security laws of Hong Kong to wreak havoc on Hong Kong SAR and China in general.


The enactment of the Hong Kong National Security Law by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on June 30, 2020 eventually provided a solid legal, political and moral basis and obligation to promote national security education in Hong Kong. Article 10 of the Law stipulates that “The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall promote national security education in schools and universities and through social organizations, the media, the internet and other means to raise the awareness of Hong Kong residents of national security and of the obligation to abide by the law.” Since then the Hong Kong SAR government has begun to play a more active role in introducing national security education in schools and in the community.


Nevertheless, apparently both the government and community leaders have not emphasized enough the relationship between national security and regime security on the one hand, and the relationship between national security and the successful practice of “one country, two systems” on the other. Undoubtedly they are apprehensive of the criticisms of external and local hostile forces and the sensitivities of Hongkongers. In the days ahead, they should not shy away from clearly and robustly explicating these two points as they together constitute the essence of national security education in Hong Kong. National security education will be deficient and defective if Hongkongers are not made aware of their crucial importance. The SAR government in particular thus has to come clean with the Hong Kong public on these points.

In China, the security of the Chinese Communist Party regime is paramount in national security. Not only is the CPC the founder of the People’s Republic of China, but also, as the Chinese Constitution declares, the leadership of the CPC is the essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics. What is more is that, as Mr. Deng Xiaoping, the “chief designer” of “one country, two systems”, asserted, back in the early 1980s, only the CPC had the courage, the foresight and the capability to put forward “one country, two systems” as the formula to resolve the problem of the future of Hong Kong. And Mr. Deng justified the “one country, two systems” arrangement as a wise policy which would promote China’s reunification and benefit both Hong Kong and the country as a whole, even though it gave Hong Kong a special status and a whole bunch of privileges to its people that were not enjoyed back then by the Mainland compatriots. What logically follows then is that any attempt at regime change in China by external or internal forces will bring about a new regime which might not be willing to continue the “one country, two systems” policy, and regime change thus is definitely not in the vital interest of Hongkongers. However, it is deplorable that a lot of Hong Kong people, including even many government officials, do not realize the convergence of interests of CPC and Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” policy. Many Hongkongers, blinded by anti-communist fervor, simply refuse to admit the critical fact that the CPC is the most reliable guarantor of Hong Kong’s interests and well-being. The oppositionists in Hong Kong have been arguing vociferously and wrongly that only with the end of the rule of CPC will Hongkongers be able to really enjoy a high degree of autonomy and have their freedoms, rights and rule of law protected. Unfortunately, these misleading ideas have gained a wide audience in Hong Kong over the years and produced very harmful consequences for national security. As such, any possible initiative contemplated by the Hong Kong SAR government to defend national security is bound to create a new round of anti-communist invectives and actions.

Another pernicious idea propagated by external and local hostile forces is that given the “fact” that Hong Kong is “an independent political entity” under “one country, two systems”, Hongkongers have no duty or obligation to safeguard national security. They associate the “one country” under “one country, two systems” with an “abstract” China — historical China, cultural China, geographical China or ethnic China, but not the existent and concrete China — the People’s Republic of China. They see the PRC as the creation of the CPC and they, given their anti-communist bias, accordingly claim that the PRC has no right or moral authority to demand loyalty from Hongkongers. Accordingly, they argue that under “one country, two systems”, safeguarding the security of PRC is anathema. Even the term “patriotism” has been severely tarnished. And it is because of this reasoning that the oppositionists in Hong Kong are deadly against the local enactment of Article 23 of the Basic Law.

In truth, Mr. Deng Xiaoping had already made it very clear that safeguarding national security by Hongkongers is part and parcel of “one country, two systems.” In no uncertain terms Mr. Deng said that Hongkongers could continue to criticize the CPC, but if they took organized actions against the socialist system of the Mainland, the central authorities would have no alternative but to intervene to safeguard national security. It is clear that according to Mr. Deng, the prerequisites for the successful practice of “one country, two systems” are that the central authorities would preserve the original institutions and lifestyles of Hong Kong and that Hong Kong would fulfill its duty to protect national security. Therefore, if the second prerequisite is not there, “one country, two systems” could not continue. Consequently, if Hongkongers want to have “one country, two systems” continue, even beyond 2047, they have to willingly and effectively safeguard the security of the PRC.

By disassociating safeguarding national security with the defence of CPC and the PRC, external and local hostile forces have done “one country, two systems”, as well as the well-being and interests of Hongkongers, a disgraceful and dangerous disservice. Lamentably, the misleading ideas of these forces have not been strongly rebuked and refuted by the Hong Kong SAR government and the patriotic community in Hong Kong. In view of the enormous and increasing importance of safeguarding national security by Hongkongers in the current turbulent international situation, explicitly educating the Hong Kong students and the community about the significance of defending the security of the CPC regime and the PRC is imperative.

(The author is an emeritus professor of sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and vice president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies.)


Source:Bauhinia New Media [2021-04-15]