Since the first day of the new semester, the students of Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) have found that they have been surrounded by banners and posters supporting Hong Kong independence on campus. A video captured a girl trying to tear down the posters triggers tensions not only physically on campus, but remotely on the Internet. The CUHK president has sent open letter in response, asking all the students and faculty to maintain the learning environment peaceful.
In multiple prominent places in the CHUK campus, posters and banners such as “Refuse to drown; independence is the only way,” “Fight for our homeland. Fight for Hong Kong,” and “Hong Kong independence” could be spotted as the school started recently. The university tried to remove the posters in the first place, but the removal led to strong resistance from the Chinese University Student Union (CUSU), who later filled the posters on the “democracy wall” at the Benjamin Franklin Centre’s Cultural Square and guarded them accordingly, Hong Kong Free Press reported.
On September 6, a video captured a girl speaking Mandarin and English trying to tear down the posters went viral on Chinese social media. In the three-minute video, the girl argued with the members of CUSU in English that she, who is also a CHUK student, disagreed with what was posted on the wall. “Talking about democracy, you have the right to put it up; I have the right to tear it down.” said the girl, “ and I disapprove you guys to shoot me with cameras.”
The girl then won thousands of thumbs-ups in Chinese mainland’s social media, and most mainland netizens praised her for her courage to confronting the HK students and her fluent English compared to her rivals. A group of mainland netizens even decided to “attack” CUSU’s Facebook page by posting numerous critical comments. Beyond the Internet, physical clashes also took place on campus, when posters with an opposing stance were pasted upon the posters supporting HK independence.
On September 7, CUHK Vice-Chancellor and President, Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung published his open letter on his blog, despite the fact that he is currently attending an academic conference overseas. In the letter, he said:
The idea of an independent Hong Kong is not only in breach of the Basic Law of Hong Kong but also contrary to what I personally believe. Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China; this is beyond dispute…Our campus is a place for learning. It should not be turned into a political arena.
He also called on all the students to “conduct the discussion or debate in a respectful and patient manner” and “maintain the learning environment peaceful.”
Unfortunately, Sung’s open letter has brought about more resistance from the CUSU. To make matters worse, in order to support their counterparts, other Hong Kong universities’ student unions have started to fill posters supporting independence in their campus as well.
Earlier in July, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Hong Kong not to cross the “red line.” “Any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty and security, … or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses the red line,” he said.