Student bodies slammed for protest support

By Xu Keyue, Yang Sheng and Chen Xi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/18 0:43:39

Anger surges as UK campuses urged not to be used for ‘political ends’ over HK

Photo: Courtesy of Eva

Chinese students in the UK urged campuses not to serve  political ends after student unions including those at the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford and Durham University posted details of events in support of Hong Kong rioters.

ICUSU, Cambridge University's international student union (SU) shared on Friday on Facebook an event scheduled on Saturday to protest against the Wolfson College's decision to keep Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Yuet-ngor as an Honorary Fellow. 

The now deleted post triggered a backlash among students. Chinese mainland students reached by the Global Times criticized the union as abusing power to achieve political goals and said they worried that the biased post could cause potential threats of violence at  the university as some protesters carried out personal attacks and threats against mainland students who are counter-protesters.

"I am very angry that the protesters are using our college as a political target. I hope the college will issue a public statement soon to clarify its stance to guarantee the safety and mutual respect between Cambridge students," a Chinese postgraduate at Wolfson College who preferred to be called Eva, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The SU took down the post and apologized on Facebook on Friday evening.

"In light of the escalating situation in the post's comment section, and upon the request of many students that are personally affected by the appearance of political bias," the SU took down the post and apologized on Facebook on Friday evening.

"We deeply regret to have caused the confusion and division within the international student body… and we would like to sincerely apologize for the unforeseen escalating disputes within international community as a result of the post and the distress this brought to some members of the international student body," read the announcement.

A student surnamed Wang at Cambridge University told the Global Times that she and her classmates were glad to see the post taken down and urged the SU to take responsibility to protect and encourage safety and mutual respect between Cambridge students.

The protest went ahead on Saturday as scheduled. According to the university student paper Varsity, hundreds of protesters and counter-protesters marched through Cambridge following Wolfson's decision to maintain the honorary fellowship of Carrie Lam.

Counter-protesters, some of whom are students of Wolfson and King's colleges, gathered to campaign in support of the police and against the months of chaos and violence in Hong Kong, Eva said.

Meanwhile, the student union of the University of Oxford passed a motion supporting the Hong Kong riots and "to condemn Hong Kong police brutality," Oxford's biggest student newspaper the Oxford Student reported on Saturday.

Students opposing the motion counterclaimed that it was the protesters that are being violent and condemned the union for supporting the violence of Hong Kong protesters, a Chinese student, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times, noting that he was deeply disappointed for the motion.

Li Zhu, or Michael Li, a PhD student from the Chinese mainland studying at Oxford, told the Global Times on Sunday that a few extreme students from Hong Kong who support the protests submitted a motion to Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) asking them to issue a statement to "support Hong Kong's fight for freedomand condemn police brutality" without any objective investigation and understanding of what is really happening in Hong Kong.

More than 370 mainland students signed a motion to protest the biased and groundless condemnation, and according to Wei Yin, Shining Zhao and Li, who are also initiators of the mainland students' movement, they will launch an urgent motion at the OUSU student council to stop the passing of the motion launched by the pro-riot Hong Kong students, and also issue a statement urging a halt to the violent protests and riots in Hong Kong, and the start of peaceful dialogue.

In fact, the motion launched by the extreme Hong Kong students cannot represent every Hong Kong student at Oxford University, and many Hong Kong students also expressed their opinion that the motion was unfair at the debate in the OUSU student council, Li said.

In the next stage, Li and other initiators of the mainland students' motion said they will continue to communicate with other students at the university, including Hong Kong students, to win their support and help them to learn more objective information about the months-long turmoil in Hong Kong.

Durham University International Office on Friday also announced on Sina Weibo that the university's student union's support of Hong Kong rioters did not represent the university's stance and urged the SU to apologize.

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