“China’s Soft Power Mission”

RealClearWorld weighs in on why Hong Kongers have been drifting away from Chinese identity:

To understand why Hong Kong seems so resistant to China’s charms, Beijing could perhaps examine its own behavior. Last August, when Vice Premier Li Keqiang visited the University of Hong Kong, he was seated in the chancellor’s chair although he was a guest. Three students who attempted to approach him were thrown to the ground by the police. The furor that followed overshadowed Li’s attempts at promoting economic development.

Chung insisted that the polling was an academic exercise unrelated to politics and refused to be drawn into a debate with his critics, citing “Cultural Revolution-style curses and defamations.”

One commentator, Song Sio-chong, wrote in the China Daily that the results of the survey were unreliable, undesirable and dangerous. “Such a distorted survey should not enjoy the so-called academic freedom,” he concluded. “If the public interest is paramount, then academic nonsense is not sacrosanct.”

In the face of this onslaught against academic freedom, part and parcel of Hong Kong’s core values, the Hong Kong government must tread a fine line. Raymond Tam, secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, denied interference by Beijing, saying that “anyone can give opinions on various matters,” as if Beijing’s spokesman in Hong Kong was just another individual whose freedom of speech needs to be protected.

Tam went on to say that academic freedom is protected by the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, and “is an important social value treasured by Hong Kong.” The government, he said, has been striving to maintain an environment “so that academics can conduct academic activities, such as research and survey, uninhibited.”

To strengthen patriotic sentiment in Hong Kong, Beijing has urged the introduction of “national education” into the curriculum. Hao, the Chinese official, blandly accepted that this was tantamount to brainwashing, but said it was something that all countries do

Based on the impact of patriotic education in Tibet, I can’t imagine Hong Kong would really be drawn any closer by that, and might actually get pushed farther away.

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