Hong Kong is requiring foreign English-language teachers working in government schools to take the oath of allegiance to the city.

According to Hong Kong Free Press, the new order for Native English Teachers (NETs) was issued on June 7. The teachers are expected to file a declaration as soon as June 21. Officials also warned that if there are instances of “neglect, refusal or failure to duly sign,” their contract might be terminated.

Following the format letter HKFP was able to acquire, the teachers will have to pledge to uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. 

They would also have to be dedicated to the duties and be responsible to the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The policy applies to NETs whose contracts began on or after July 1, 2020, the first day the national security law went into effect. They are hired on two-year contracts, commencing in mid-August. The monthly wage for NET begins at point 15 of the civil servants pay scale, which is 31,750 Hong Kong Dollars, an equivalent amount to 4,000 dollars.

NETs used to receive government allowances and other incentives that would guarantee their stays in the city. However, in recent years, more of them, together with lawyers, had been driven out because of the intensified Beijing constraint on the once pro-democracy community.

As The Guardian reported, the government in April revealed that 13% of NETs in secondary schools had quit in the 2020-21 academic year, the highest percentage in five years.

In early March, Bloomberg reported a record mass exodus of Hong Kong residents. One day even saw 5,082 people leaving the city. At the time, sweeping zero-COVID policy had been the main driver behind the exit rush.

Hong Kong has increased its push for “national security education” recently, with sensitive subjects such as the 1989 Tiananmen massacre being excluded from teaching materials.

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