CNA Staff, Aug 11, 2020 / 10:00 am
Catholic schools in Hong Kong have been told to explain the provisions of the new National Security Law and encourage patriotic values to students, according to the text of a letter sent by the Diocese of Hong Kong to nearly 200 schools.
The letter, signed by Peter Lau Chiu Yin, a layman who serves as the Episcopal Delegate for Education in the diocese, was addressed to principles and leaders of all Catholic primary and secondary schools and was first reported by the Hong Kong news service RTHK last week.
The schools are advised to offer instruction to students on the provisions of the National Security Law which came into force on July 1 of this year.
The new law criminalizes new categories of “secession,” “subversion,” “terrorism” and “collusion with foreign forces.” Anyone convicted under the law will receive a minimum of 10 years in prison, with the possibility of a life sentence. It was imposed on Hong Kong by the mainland legislature, bypassing Hong Kong’s own legislative process.
As part of helping students understand the new law’s provisions, teachers are to “foster the correct values on [students’] national identity” and to respect Chinese national symbols including the flag and national anthem, the letter said.
The letter also called for schools to put in place structures for evaluating “materials, assignments, examination papers and books” used by teachers to prevent “unilateral promotion of political messages, positions or views.”
A spokesman for the Diocese of Hong Kong told AsiaNews on Aug. 7 that the letter was intended as a “suggestion” and not an order, but that "students must be taught a correct understanding of national identity in accordance with the social teaching of the Church".
The new law has been widely perceived as an effective end to the civil liberties which Hong Kongers have enjoyed relative to the mainland under the “one country, two systems” policy adopted since the handover.