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China Rewrites Textbooks To Change Colonial History

China Rewrites Textbooks To Change Colonial History

Chinese history textbooks will now deny that the UK ever owned Hong Kong.

China has rewritten history books to claim that Hong Kong was never a British colony.

The country is reportedly rewriting the history books to teach new generations of students that they never recognised the UK taking Hong Kong as a colonial possession.

In truth, Britain took Hong Kong from China during the First Opium War and in 1898 signed a 99 year lease of it and adjacent territories.

Hong Kong was returned to Chinese control in 1997 when that lease expired, but the city's status with a different system to that of the communist Chinese government has caused serious tensions.

China and Hong Kong have operated under a 'one nation, two systems' model where Hong Kong is under Chinese control but has its own government with powers over legal and financial affairs.

Many protests in Hong Kong have demonstrated against being further absorbed by the Chinese government.

However, in recent years China has sought to further integrate Hong Kong which has triggered massive protests over a loss of autonomy.

Students aiming to take a class on Chinese citizenship will now be taught from material which says the Chinese government doesn't recognise the treaties signed in the 1800s which ceded Hong Kong to the British.

The treaties were signed by the Qing dynasty when China was still an empire and imposed after Qing China was defeated in wars by the major colonial powers.

Several colonial nations took treaty ports from the Chinese during the 19th Century which have since been reintegrated into China.

The history books will now say the British Empire 'only exercised colonial rule' in Hong Kong in order to insist the territory was never separated from China.

By not recognising what are sometimes referred to as the 'unequal treaties', it allows the Chinese government to claim unbroken sovereignty over the territory and assert its control over it.

Massive numbers of pro-democracy supporters have demonstrated on the streets of Hong Kong.

If China doesn't recognise the treaties which ceded Hong Kong to the UK and claims it always had sovereignty over the territory, then it can claim the people of Hong Kong are Chinese and thus under its control.

According to the BBC, it is part of the Chinese government's attempts to grow a 'Chinese identity' among students in Hong Kong and raise new generations that are loyal to it.

The new textbooks will also parrot the Chinese government's line that the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong were triggered by 'external forces' rather than a desire not to be swallowed up by a repressive, autocratic system.

The protests were actually triggered by a bill that would have allowed the extradition of individuals to mainland China.

The UK ruled Hong Kong from 1841 to 1997, with a break between 1941 and 1945 as the territory was occupied by the Japanese during the Second World War.

While Hong Kong was under British rule the governance of China changed from an empire ruled by the Qing dynasty to a republic and then to a communist regime established by Mao Zedong.

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Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: China