Oct. 23 (UPI) -- China's education minister said teachers in the special administrative region of Hong Kong must love China if they are to do their jobs properly.
The remarks from Chen Baosheng were made on the sidelines of the Chinese Communist Party's national congress, the South China Morning Post reported Monday.
Teachers "need to love the country first, identify with the country, have stronger national pride and enjoy the fruits of China's development together with the mainland," Chen said.
The education chief may have touched a nerve in Hong Kong, where the issue of national education remains highly controversial.
Beijing was met with strong resistance in 2012, after it tried to make national education a required course.
Parents and teachers in Hong Kong opposed the move, and said the decision could lead to the "brainwashing" of pupils, according to the Post.
During the 19th national congress which concludes Tuesday, Chen also said Hong Kong has both autonomy and obligation.
"There is no country, no government in the world that does not implement national education," he said. "We need to let our young students identify with China, understand the hard times Hong Kong has been through and understand the successful implementation of 'one country, two systems' in the past 20 years."
Chen's remarks come at a time Chinese President Xi Jinping is reaching the peak of his power, after he appoints a new Central Committee of the party's top 200 officials, and China's revised constitution will formally refer to his ideas as "Xi Jinping Thought," the Financial Times reported Monday.
It remains to be seen whether Xi will remain as the only living man with a theory in his name in the party constitution, and whether a Xi appointee in the new central committee will serve as a two-term Chinese president after Xi, according to the report.