Hong Kong officials flag two schools for singing Chinese national anthem ‘too softly’

Hong Kong education department officials have singled out two schools after an inspection found their students were singing the Chinese national anthem “too softly”.

They advised teachers at one of the schools to help students “cultivate habit and confidence” in singing the anthem, Hong Kong Free Press reported.

The scrutiny comes amid a push for patriotic education in Hong Kong, intensified since a crackdown on pro-democracy activities in 2020.

While the Education Bureau ticked off Hong Kong and Macau Lutheran Church Primary School and Yan Chai Hospital Lim Por Yen Secondary School for insufficiently enthusiastic renditions of the Chinese anthem, it praised another pair of schools for actively promoting patriotic education through various activities.

The Church of Christ in China Kei Tsz Primary School in Wong Tai Sin organised exhibitions on Chinese culture, geography and national security, the bureau said in its inspection report, while S K H St Peter’s Primary School in Shek Tong Tsui helped nurture national identity of students, including by showcasing China’s space programme to parents. Both schools also emphasised respectful flag-raising ceremonies and students sang the national anthem loudly.

Of the 20 schools whose inspection reports were published on the bureau’s website, at least six were recommended to enhance their patriotic education curriculum.

The recommendations included organising trips to mainland China and activities fostering national pride.

In January, Beijing’s patriotic education law took effect, extending its coverage to include Hong Kong and Macau.

In May, the Education Bureau urged parents to collaborate with schools in fostering their children’s national identity.

It suggested they encourage participation in activities related to national security like talks and exchange programmes with mainland China.

Hong Kong authorities have previously instructed schools to remove books deemed to threaten national security and mandated that aspiring school principals demonstrate a strong sense of national identity.

Critics argue that such measures have contributed to the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy.