Mainland academics, students ‘anxious’ after attack
Updated: 2019-11-09 07:18
HONG KONG – Mainland students and teachers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology are feeling “anxious, scared and furious” amid escalating violence and bullying directed at them on university campuses.
A 23-year-old mainland PhD student at HKUST, surnamed Zheng, was pursued and beaten up by a group of masked radicals during an open forum between students and university President Wei Shyy on Wednesday.
Students and teachers like Zheng felt helpless as hatred and violence against mainland people spreads on campus. The university banning police on campus has not helped alleviate their concerns.
On Friday night, Shyy expressed his concerns for Zheng via a message, but he did not openly condemn the violence.
According to online video footage and students and teachers at the scene, Zheng was leaving the forum venue when a black-clad masked man next to him fell down lightly touching Zheng’s shoulder, and then accused Zheng of pushing him to the ground.
Zheng was quickly roughed up by a group of masked men. He was then harassed for about an hour after being taken to the school’s security center.
His Hong Kong identity card, student card, travel permit between the SAR and the mainland were taken away; his personal information was leaked on the internet.
A HKUST professor in contact with Zheng told China Daily on Friday he was in a stable condition without any major injuries, though still reeling from the incident.
The campus violence against mainland people were driven by hatred, instead of the lofty goals they claimed to pursue, the professor said.
According to Zheng, he didn’t feel any physical contact with the black-clad man, let alone initiate any conflict, the professor said.
Zheng is an intelligent and diligent student who would never start any conflicts, he said. He is like most mainland students in Hong Kong, the professor added.
“He was just a random victim,” said the professor angry over the incident. “I care about Zheng I care about the safety of all mainland students these days, especially those living in dormitories.”
Hong Kong police are not allowed to enter most universities under school policy, originally as a way to protect students, the professor noted. Nowadays, in view of street violence, the school doesn’t want something similar happening on campus, he added.
However, he believes the policy has emboldened radicals, some of whom aren’t even members of the university, to recklessly attack people and vandalize property.
Shyy’s residence and pro-government shops and banks on the HKUST campus have been vandalized.
This is unreasonable, the professor said. He believes Hong Kong should learn from the United States and have campus police with some law-enforcement powers. Currently, most security guards on campus have not received any professional training, nor do they have any real authority, he noted.
“The situation now is that the school can’t ensure the safety of mainland teachers and students,” said the professor, who is also from the mainland.
“Most mainland students in contact with me expressed anxiety, fear and indignation,” he added.
Jay Wang, 24, a PhD student of the HKUST School of Science, said that before the Zheng incident happened, Wang and many mainland students believed HKUST to be relatively safe, and Shyy would assist them, if anything.
Nearly 100 mainland students attended the forum to show support for President Shyy, Wang recalled.
“However, we were really disappointed with the president and the school, as he didn’t allow the police, who had already arrived outside the campus on Wednesday, to enter,” Wang said. “He didn’t even comment in public about the incident or condemn the violence,” he said, adding that Shyy only sent an email to those students who expressed concern about the incident.
In the message, Shyy said he was not sure what was happening that day while standing about 100 meters away, and noted that the relevant department is investigating the incident.
Wang recalled that before Zheng was beaten, many students started leaving the forum as Hong Kong students shouted abuse at them, such as “Chinese pigs”.
Most mainland students thought the incident, along with other, similar incidents, was staged to bully mainland students, Wang said.
“We don’t know who we can turn to for help. We are worried that it might evolve into exclusion of us such as what the Nazis did to the Jews,” Wang said. “Our mood and our academic research are both affected,” he added, noting that some are considering dropping out of school or already have.
(HK Edition 11/09/2019 page2)