By Lian Jintian from People’s Daily-Mareeg.com-A shopping mall organizes a folk festival to mark the start of business in a new year in Hong Kong. Traditional Chinese culture thrives in Hong Kong as it marks the 20th anniversary of its return to China. Whether in large shopping malls or on small street corners, the influences of traditional Chinese culture are deep and prevalent. (Photo: China News Service/Hong Shaokui)
Hong Kong now witnesses a closer cultural bond with the Chinese mainland, 20 years after its return to the motherland. Its citizens also have a stronger sense of national identity.
During the British colonial rule of Hong Kong, schools didn’t offer Chinese history lessons, and museums were not allowed to exhibit traditional Chinese culture because of cultural alienation.
The cultural bonds between Hong Kong and mainland were interrupted. As a result, it would take a long time to change people’s perception due to such indoctrination.
After China resumed exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997, the government of the special administrative region has strengthened its efforts to enhance people’s sense of national belonging.
National education was added into the curriculum of civic education in schools, introducing subjects such as national pride and patriotism.
In 2017, about 100,000 Hong Kong students will participate in exchange project with their counterparts in the mainland under the sponsorship of Hong Kong administration. China’s national flags and national anthem are also very common in this metropolis.
Hong Kong has seen more and more Mandarin speakers, with more than 100,000 people having joined national Mandarin test during the past 20 years. In addition, thousands of students from Hong Kong pursue university education in the mainland each year.
A survey made before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games showed that 78 percent of the young people in Hong Kong are willing to be the volunteers of the event. A recent survey conducted by Hong Kong United Youth Association also suggested that more than 80 percent of Hong Kong college students expressed their interest of working in the mainland.
On the gala marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the mainland held by Nanling Villagers Association on June 6, a youth delegate named Wu Jiajin said that the people will be wealthy only as the country becomes stronger.
He suggested that young generations in Hong Kong learn more about and protect the motherland, and make their contribution to Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.
Since 1997, the number of countries or regions where Hong Kong citizens enjoy visa-free policy has increased to 158, and the Office of the Commissioner of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has dealt with more than 12,000 cases of consular protection related with Hong Kong citizens.
“I did not realize that our country has done so many things for Hong Kong,” said a middle school student named Luo Ninghua after visiting a show of Hong Kong-related diplomacy. “China is important for the region, and I can feel that Hong Kong is really a part of the country,” he added.
Last October, two lawmakers humiliated China by playing up “independence of Hong Kong” at a swearing-in ceremony of pro-democracy lawmakers, causing indignation among people with a sense of justice.
After that, more that 1 million people signed a joint petition, opposing such statements and acts that tried to split Hong Kong from the nation. More than 10,000 people, on October 26, took to the street to voice against “independence of Hong Kong” and humiliating China.
“Seekers of ‘Hong Kong independence’ account for a very small number, but they might lead Hong Kong to chaos if they continue making troubles. We should stand up to them and stop them from bringing disgrace to Hong Kong,” said Zheng Zhuang, a Chinese in the US holding a Hong Kong identity card.
In 2015, Hu Baolin, chairman of the Hong Kong Greater China Council, initiated the class themed “Loving our country, seeking for history” by inviting veterans of Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression to share their stories of fighting against Japanese invaders.
The nearly 1,000 attendees, including students and teachers, said they were touched by the bravery and patriotism of the veterans. More than 50 of them were given the opportunity to come to Beijing for a visit.
“I couldn’t hold back tears when watching the national flag raising ceremony at the Tiananmen Square. For the first time I genuinely feel I’m a Chinese,” one student said.
“I’m very proud that Beijing, capital of our country is so magnificently built. I’m proud of my country,” another one echoed.