Hong Kong education chief pulls out of UK trade show talk amid criticism of visit by anti-China activist group

Hong Kong education chief pulls out of UK trade show talk amid criticism of visit by anti-China activist group

Hong Kong’s education minister has withdrawn at the last minute from joining a panel discussion at a British trade show, citing scheduling issues, amid objections to her UK visit by an anti-China activist group.

Secretary for Education Christine Choi Yuk-lin was expected to attend the British Educational Training and Technology Show in London as part of a visit to the United Kingdom and Finland this week, according to a government statement last Saturday.

Choi was set to “speak at a panel session … and support Hong Kong teachers and students who will participate in the show”, the statement said.

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The British Educational Training and Technology Show in being held in London. Photo: Bett Global

An Education Bureau spokesman said on Thursday that the minister had a “very intensive” schedule and that she had also been invited to attend “different activities” by “different stakeholders in the local education sector”.

“Team members may adjust the itinerary according to the actual situation to strengthen exchanges and contact with people from different education sectors, and promote and introduce Hong Kong’s education work, so they can understand the actual situation, development opportunities and advantages of Hong Kong,” the spokesman added.

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Choi’s trip to the UK and Finland included meetings with education experts and Hong Kong students, according to her initial itinerary.

The Post has contacted the show organiser for comment.

Choi’s trip to Britain has drawn the ire of a number of groups.

British-based anti-China activist group Hong Kong Watch said on X, formerly Twitter, that it welcomed confirmation Choi’s talk had been called off, after earlier issuing a statement calling for action against her. It accused her of “continuing to dismantle academic freedoms in Hong Kong”.

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The US-based Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation earlier this week also took aim at her trip, and called on the British government to cancel “all such visits” by city officials.

On Thursday she was scheduled to attend an exhibition in the Finnish capital Helsinki for a “topical discussion on the role of education for the future” with a group of international representatives.

She left Hong Kong for Britain on January 21 and is scheduled to return on Sunday.

Choi attracted similar criticism last year when she attended the Education World Forum in London.

Last April, financial affairs and treasury chief Christopher Hui Ching-yu became the first Hong Kong minister to visit the UK in three years, and met top British officials. During his trip, a group of protesters chased after and intercepted his car, resulting in an altercation.

In 2019, then justice secretary Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah suffered a fracture and partial dislocation of her wrist after a fall while visiting London on an official visit. She had been surrounded by a group protesting against a now-shelved extradition bill that triggered months of unrest that year.

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