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School and Theories of Nation Building

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In previous chapters, we have shown that school education and nation building are in close relationship and it is generally believed that modern nations attempt to use public education to foster a national consciousness in student citizens (Kennedy 1997; Green 1997; Gellner 1983; Smith 1991 and 1995; Anderson 1991). Hong Kong after re-integration with China has found schools organising more and more learning activities on national identity for students and this was not seen under British Hong Kong governance. Hong Kong is part of China now and schools in HKSAR besides paying attention to developments in local politics should also have some knowledge of the national consciousness being advocated in China when they prepare the national learning programmes for their students. China aims to build a socialist Chinese nation on the Mainland and it allows Hong Kong to foster in students a capitalistic democratic Chinese citizenship under the “one country two systems” policy.

This raises then the question whether schools of the two territories will promote the same Chinese identity to their students, and, if not, what is the difference and what is in common. This chapter will continue the discussion of education for national citizenship by shifting the focus to the ethno-national development of national identity locally through reviewing the findings of the present school case with reference to several conceptions of nation building such as Smith's “common, mass public culture” and Anderson's “imagined community”. We shall examine firstly what Chinese nationality is taught in local citizenship education, and how. Secondly, we shall consider the degrees of sameness or difference in national identity and ethno-national development between the Mainland and Hong Kong.

According to He and Guo (2000: 192), China exercises a pan-Chinese nationalism based on the ethnic Han culture in order to assimilate people of different nationalities and interests under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2012

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