The Use of Putonghua Subject as a Vehicle for a Pan-Chinese Identity
Keywords:Hong Kong, Putonghua, Mandarin, Cantonese, Language policy, bilingualism, education
In April 2015, a meeting of a Hong Kong Legislative Council Panel discussed the potential for using Putonghua, as opposed to Cantonese, to teach the ‘Chinese Language Subject’ within the Hong Kong curriculum. Their primary reason for making this suggestion was based on the idea that Putonghua and the Han Chinese ethnicity are somehow inherently linked – if you are Han Chinese, you should be able to speak Putonghua. This paper discusses the validity of this assertion and examines language-in-education policy related to Putonghua in Hong Kong from the late-colonial period and the contemporary period to establish whether Putonghua is used by the Hong Kong Legislative Council to encourage Hong Kong pupils to identify with a pan-Chinese ethnicity and by dint, a pan-Chinese language, Putonghua.
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