On Thursday (Aug 20) local media reported, that Hong Kong publishers have been told to remove “sensitive” content from secondary school textbooks, in the latest move to tighten the city’s academic freedoms after the passage of a new security law. This being the latest step in a quickening campaign to eliminate dissent in the city, which was rocked by months of sometimes violent protests demanding reform and police accountability.
Hong Kong’s Beijing-appointed government described the edits as required “with a view to sieving out the inaccurate parts from the past”. Education has been a key target of Beijing’s ire, with pro-establishment politicians lashing out at a perceived fifth column within the city’s schools that they say offers succor to protesters. Liberal studies, a secondary school class that teaches critical thinking is strongly disliked by China and pro-Beijing politicians in Hong Kong who have called for more openly patriotic education.
Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (HKPTU) said the city’s Education Bureau, whose consultancy service demanded the changes, was guilty of political censorship. “It waters down or even distorts reality in society,” HKPTU said, calling for authorities to guarantee academic freedom in the territory. The law, whose contents were kept secret from Hong Kong residents until it was imposed on them by Beijing, has already prompted schools and libraries to pull some books.
Hong Kong’s government referred to the edits as an aid to help students “develop positive values”. It denied any political censorship.