Hong Kong varsity snaps ties with student union over national security issues
HONG KONG – The Chinese University of Hong Kong has revoked recognition of its student union, saying the criticism of the national security law by union leaders may have been illicit.
The varsity accused the union of having “exploited the campus” for “political propaganda”. The move raises concerns about academic and political freedom in the financial hub after China imposed the national security law last year.
During the agitations in 2019, students were at the forefront and authorities are bent on quashing dissent in schools and universities. Bejing blames campuses for fostering anti-government sentiment.
Union leaders “have made false allegations against the university and exploited the campus for their political propaganda, which…brought the university into disrepute,” said the university late on Thursday.
Union leader Isaac Lam, 20, said, “We will continue to pursue democracy and freedom, despite the crackdown.”
The newly elected executive committee of the union said in its manifesto that the varsity was “kowtowing to the regime” and pledged to fight it, adding that the security law infringed basic human rights and freedom.
After the union election on Wednesday, the university, which is ranked 13th in Asia and 43rd in the world, said it would stop collecting fees on behalf of the union.
It would also direct the student body to register as an independent entity to assume legal responsibility for itself.
The varsity also said it would suspend members of the union from all other positions on committees.
Even before the election, the relation between the university and the union had soured. The institution had called in police after a conflict with students regarding security checks and an unofficial graduation ceremony that became a protest.