Schools in Beijing and Hong Kong have launched a sister school scheme aimed at promoting mutual understanding between the two cities as well as a spirit of ‘patriotism’ among young people.
According to Chinese media, 5 schools in Beijing, including Beijing Middle School and Fangshan Middle School, have partnered with 5 Hong Kong schools funded by Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGH), including Wong Fut Nam College (黃笏南中學), Yow Kam Yuen College (邱金元中學), and Li Ka-shing College (李嘉誠中學).
So far over 90 students and teachers from Hong Kong have visited Beijing through the sister school scheme, taking part in flag raising ceremonies, courses of traditional Chinese culture and other activities.
“This is the first time that students from these 5 middle schools have visited Beijing,” said Dr. Lee Yuk Lun, Chairman of the Board of Directors of TWGH. “We want to set up a mechanism that allows young people from Beijing and Hong Kong to make friends, that promotes the identification of the Hong Kong youth with the fatherland.”
“The sister school scheme between Beijing and Hong Kong will deepen exchanges and co-operation and promote patriotic education among young people,” said Li Shixiang, Vice-Chairman of the Beijing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Tung Wah Hospital was founded in 1870 as a charity to help destitute Chinese in British Hong Kong. Since the colonial regime had little direct contact with the Chinese-speaking population, Tung Wah Hospital gradually became an important intermediary between the colonial elites and the Chinese community, acting on behalf of the Chinese, who had no elected representatives in the administration.
Tung Wah also carried out self-policing duties in Chinese neighbourhoods through the establishment of the District Watch Force. This was tacitly accepted by the British government, which lacked the funds to police sections of the colony with predominantly Chinese population and respected the wish of the Chinese to manage their own affairs .
Since 1997 China‘s government has stressed the importance of ‘patriotic education’ in Hong Kong, viewing Chinese nationalism as a means to integrate the former British colony into a system dominated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In the past, attempts at introducing ‘patriotic education’ classes have met with fierce resistance in Hong Kong, forcing the local government to back down.
Under the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping, however, the central authorities have adopted a more assertive stance, putting pressure on the Hong Kong government to implement education reforms that promote nationalism.
 Steve Tsang, ed., Government and Politics: A Documentary History of Hong Kong (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1995), 205, 209.
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