Patriotic education is almost widespread in schools in Macau. Added to this is the fact that many students were born in the PRC. Xi Jinping, on his recent visit to Macau, could not be more satisfied.
MB April 2020 Special Report | Youngsters living on a keyboard
While thousands of young people in Hong Kong were fighting for more freedom, in some cases even boycotting classes in secondary and university education, a professor at the University of Macau was accused of making “unacceptable statements about mainland China,” allegedly for his students themselves.
The explanation for such a different behavior lies within the students: while most young people in Hong Kong were born at HKSAR, in Macau the percentage of young people who came in recent years from Mainland is very significant.
It is precisely these young people who do not want to hear criticism of the People’s Republic of China (although the professor in question guarantees that he limited himself to explain the sociological differences between Macau and Hong Kong, should a controversial law be presented).
In this, as in other aspects, Macau is very different from Hong Kong.
On his recent visit to MSAR, Xi Jinping praised Macau’s effort to instill love for the Chinese nation in young people: “In all schools in Macau, people fly the flag of China and play and sing the national anthem. All of this makes patriotism a legacy for the younger generation, consolidating the ideological foundation of the successful practices of ‘One country, two systems’.”
Proud of the effort being made locally to instill patriotic education in young people, the Chinese President in his December visit put young people on the spotlight.
First, he went to local schools and met students, “A political symbol that emphasized the need for patriotic education,” says political commentator Sonny Lo. “Xi praised the deep-rooted patriotism that has already been entrenched in Macau’s education system.”
Second, President Xi stressed the need for Macau to increase the education level of its residents, creating favorable conditions for the young people to become local talents. “Xi sharply identified the main weaknesses of Macau’s social development: the relatively low level of education of many citizens and the absence of local talents,” adds Sonny Lo.
A few days before Xi Jinping arrived, the official Global Times newspaper was in Macau and one of the reports it published had this headline: “Youth education makes Macau shining example of ‘one country, two systems’ principle.”
Heard by the reporter, Ma Kam-keong, a member of the Administration Committee on Municipal Affairs of Macau’s Municipal Affairs Bureau, stated, “Young people born after Macau’s return to the motherland have acquired the correct concepts, such as who we are and what our country is like, since kindergarten.” Mr. Ma also explained “it was because the patriotic education that has been carried out over the years has laid a good foundation. Such education must start at an early age so that an out-of-control situation like what happens in Hong Kong will not happen in Macau.”
In this context, the results of a survey conducted by the Macau Youth Federation, which concluded that only 20 percent agreed that the implementation of national education in schools was equivalent to controlling students ’mindset about the country, are not surprising.
The University of Macau episode had no other consequences, but the Professor in question did not fail to say that “[from now on] I will think twice before using expressions that may cause misunderstandings.”
Last year alone, 500 young people from Macau visited Mainland China, as part of patriotic education missions.
Whether the Chief Executive or the Director of the Liaison Office is involved in the initiative that takes young people to five provinces (Hebei, Guizhou, Jiangsu, Guangdong and Hunan).
The then Chief stressed the SAR Government would “spare no effort in elevating Macau’s youth affairs work in line with implementation of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle.”
Fu Ziying added that “the visits to mainland provinces were part of the effort to put into practice the important instructions from President Xi Jinping regarding youth development.”
For the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau, to expand youth exchange programs between mainland China and Macau is a priority, but the mainland side also promotes other enterprise programs for youths from Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.