Nationalistic education in the Hong Kong and the Macao SARs of China

King Man Eric CHONG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to compare and analyse the role and implementation of nationalistic education in Hong Kong and Macau special administrative regions (SARs) since their respective handover of sovereignty to China in the late 1990s. Both SARs face the educational need to cultivate a Chinese national identification among the students after the sovereignty changes. While Macau SAR has enjoyed a relatively smooth implementation of nationalistic education towards which Macau’s schools and students are largely receptive to nationalistic programmes since its handover in 1999, Hong Kong SAR Government’s nationalistic education was met by reservation from some parents, students and civil society’s groups under allegations of “political indoctrination” and “brain-washing”. The Hong Kong civil society’s resistance to National Education culminated in the anti-Moral and National Education protest in Summer 2012 and then Hong Kong schools and society. This paper attempts to provide an overview and analysis on the development of nationalistic education in both Hong Kong and Macao SARs, and to give some possible explanations on the factors that lead to differences of perceiving and responding to the nationalistic education between both places.
Design/methodology/approach - After conducting a literature review, this study utilises different sources of data such as curriculum guidelines, previous studies and other scholarly findings in examining the development of civic education and national education policy in both SAR societies, as well as in discussing the possible developments of nationalistic education in both SARs by making references to previous studies of citizenship and nationalistic education.
Findings - This study found out that different relationships between the two SAR Governments and their respective civil society, the extent of established socio-political linkages with China, as well as the introduction of a core subject of Liberal Studies in Hong Kong secondary schools, which emphasises on multiple perspectives and critical thinking skills, are some plausible factors that explain different stories and developments of implementing nationalistic education in Hong Kong and Macao SARs.
Research limitations/implications - For giving suggestions for a nationalistic education in both Chinese SARs, first, there should be an exploration of multiple citizenship identities. This will allow people to choose their identities and thus facilitate their belongingness in terms of local, national and global dimensions. In addition, there should be an exploration of a Chinese national identification with different emphases such as knowledge orientation and critical thinking so as to cater for youth values. Promoting the idea of an informed and reasonable-in-thinking patriot could also be a way to ease the concern that building a national identity negates a person’s freedom of thinking.
Originality/value - This paper attempts to compare and analyse the different responses to the same policy of enhancing nationalistic education development in both Hong Kong and Macao SARs of China. Some plausible explanations were given based on political, social and educational factors, as well as youth value oritentations. This paper would be an attempt to show that a top-down single-minded orientated nationalistic education may not work well a society such as Hong Kong, where civil society and youth values are quite different than that can be found in China. Copyright © 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-411
JournalAsian Education and Development Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Chong, E. K.-M. (2018). Nationalistic education in the Hong Kong and the Macao SARs of China. Asian Education and Development Studies, 7(4), 395-411. doi: 10.1108/AEDS-07-2017-0064


  • China
  • Hong Kong SAR
  • Macao SAR
  • Nationalistic education


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