Hong Kong’s struggle for academic freedom

(From DW)

For the past two months, students and teachers in Hong Kong have been holding demonstrations against Beijing’s increasing control of the city’s educational intuitions and academic freedom. Will the movement succeed?

Hong Kong university students

University of Hong Kong students

Last week, thousands of students and teachers voted against the possible appointment of a new council chairman for the University of Hong Kong. They say that Professor Arthur Li-kwok-cheung “does not have the trust, confidence and respect of the academic and nonacademic staff, students and the alumni of the university.”

More than 97 students and members of the university’s staff voted in favor of the motion that Li was not suitable to be the chairman of the university council. Li, who is currently a member of the council, is controversial in Hong Kong for his inclination toward the Chinese government.

“It is very rare in Hong Kong that members of a university or a public institution cast votes to express their anger against the appointment of a particular person,” Yip Kin-yuen, the convener of the HKU Alumni Concern Group, told DW.

In September, university staff and students held another vote to push the appointment of Chan Man-mun as HKU deputy vice chancellor. Chan is a former dean of the university’s faculty of law, and is known for his pro-democracy stance during last year’s Umbrella Movement. The council eventually rejected his appointment, which caused academic outcry, especially after the state-run Chinese-language newspaper Wen Wei Po criticized Chan for his involvement in politics.

“The protests show that the academia is not ready to accept restrictions on academic freedom and the university’s autonomy,” Professor Joseph Chan Cho-wai, a newly elected member of the university council, told DW. Read more


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