The Impact of National Anthem Singing in Hong Kong Schools

The recent scrutiny by Hong Kong officials on schools for singing the Chinese national anthem “too softly” is not just about volume, but about the deeper implications of patriotism and national identity. Following China’s crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in 2020, Hong Kong has been increasing efforts to promote “patriotic” education, leading to greater control and influence from Beijing.

The emphasis on singing the national anthem loudly and with confidence is seen as a way to instill a sense of loyalty to China and the Chinese Communist Party. Students are expected to not only know the anthem but to embrace it wholeheartedly, reflecting a shift towards aligning Hong Kong more closely with mainland China.

While some schools have been commended for their efforts in promoting patriotism, others have been advised to strengthen their curriculum on patriotic education. This raises concerns about the impact of such education on critical thinking and independent views among students.

The implementation of a law requiring schools and companies to include patriotic education has drawn criticism for its vague definition and potential limitations on freedom of expression. The move to criminalize dissent and impose restrictions on political office further erodes the autonomy of Hong Kong, once seen as a beacon of democracy in Asia.

The restrictions on singing the unofficial anthem, Glory to Hong Kong, along with the introduction of new subjects focusing on Beijing-enacted security law and Chinese history signal a broader agenda to align Hong Kong’s education system with mainland China’s ideology. The government’s call for parents to assist in promoting national security and identity among children reflects a concerted effort to shape the next generation’s views.

As Hong Kong navigates the challenges of balancing its unique identity with growing Chinese influence, the impact of stringent patriotic education on students’ beliefs and values remains a key concern. The mandate to promote cultural confidence and loyalty to the Motherland raises questions about the future of Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic ideals in the face of increasing pressure from Beijing.