Following the new version of history approved by the Hong Kong Education Bureau, secondary school students in the city will unlearn that the city was ever a British colony.

According to the South China Morning Post, textbooks on the revamped liberal studies subject stated that the Chinese government did not accept the treaties that gave Britain control of the city. Agreements that were signed by the Qing Dynasty and subsequent governments with foreign countries to cede land and other agreements were also dismissed. 

Britain took over Hong Kong Island during the First Opium War (1840-1842). It later signed a treaty giving it 99 years of authority over the nearby New Territories. The treaty ended with the British handover of control of Hong Kong on July 1, 1997.

Textbooks in the 1990s recognized that Hong Kong was a British colony. Over time, Britain was more referred to as executing its colonial rule over Hong Kong before 1997.

The modified textbooks also adopt Beijing’s version of the 2019 social unrest in Hong Kong. It called the series of events a threat to national security. Instead of mentioning the controversial extradition bill, the textbooks attribute the cause of protests to outside forces.

Failing to mention Hong Kongers’ strive for democracy in the protests, the textbooks claimed that Beijing enacted a comprehensive national security law in 2020 in response to the social upheaval.

In one 121-page textbook issued by the Modern Educational Research Society, the word “national security” echoed more than 400 times. It claims the bill was imposed urgently because of serious violent activities in Hong Kong in 2019. As expected, no accounts of the violent crackdown from Hong Kong police were acknowledged.

The Education Bureau is still reviewing the modified textbooks.

Since 2019, Beijing has constantly tried to interfere with education in Hong Kong, forcing recognition of its version of history. Schools have to run National Security Education Days occasionally, with teachers told to report violations of national security laws.

In 2020, a teacher was punished after including freedom of speech and independence topics in their teaching material. 

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