Earlier this May, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Hong Kong scientists could seek government money to fund their research. It is the first time since 1997 that Hong Kong researchers have been permitted to request money from the Chinese government.
But the official Xinhua news agency said those seeking such support must show they “love the country and Hong Kong.” Some Hong Kong researchers are worried the requirement is a patriotism test that could interfere with their work.
More than 20 individuals and education groups started a petition protesting the measure. The petition said the term “love the country and Hong Kong” was unclear. And, it said, making researchers show their loyalty could limit freedom of thought and study.
Signers to the petition also worried the order could be extended to people working in other areas – the law, for example, or history and written works.
But Hong Kong’s top official, Carrie Lam, said people had misunderstood the order. Lam told reporters: “Of course, in Hong Kong we do expect, whether you are a scientist or researcher, or government official like myself, to love our country and love Hong Kong. So that is nothing unusual.”
Lam aims to help make Hong Kong a worldwide center for research and discovery.
As of this Monday, some researchers said they still were not sure whether evidence of patriotism was required to seek government money.
They also noted that past Chinese government attempts to establish patriotism among Hong Kong’s people had failed. For example, six years ago more than 100,000 protesters objected to a proposed school program designed to make Hong Kong children feel good about China. In time, the Hong Kong government cancelled the program.
I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.
Suzanne Sataline reported this story for VOA News. Kelly Jean Kelly adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
petition - n. a written document that people sign to show that they want a person or organization to do or change something
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