Central govt agency, HKUST condemn campus violence targeting mainland students
Published: Nov 11, 2019 12:23 AM

A journalist takes pictures of a fire set by protesters in Mong Kok, Hong Kong on Sunday. Photo: Wang Cong/GT

The liaison office of the central government in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) on Sunday strongly condemned recent campus violence targeting mainland students, with the school vowing to punish black-clad protesters who allegedly attacked and beat a student from the Chinese mainland with an umbrella last week.

In an open letter to mainland students in Hong Kong, the liaison office of the central government in the city condemned school violence targeting mainland students, and vowed to promptly follow up on the case and offer help.  

The office asked the students to keep calm, pay attention to safety, and focus on study. If they encounter any difficulties, they are asked to report to the school and keep in touch with the office. 

On Wednesday evening, a mainland student was attacked by black-clad rioters in the HKUST campus.

"After the event, we have seen many video recordings of the entire incident including the deliberate and totally unacceptable assault and battery on our students. We want to reiterate that no violence on our campus will be tolerated and we strongly condemn this attack," the university said in an announcement published on its official WeChat account on Sunday. 

The school said it is seeking external professional help to more effectively collect and review all of the available evidence to identify those responsible for the violence and those deliberately shielding the violence from view and who among them were HKUST students. 

It vowed to impose appropriate punishment on the attackers and those who assisted them, adding it will still pursue appropriate legal action even if those responsible are not HKUST students. 

Mainland students are facing a rising threat of violence at Hong Kong universities, as radical, local black-clad protesters politicize campuses where academic freedom is at risk and weighing heavily on the future of education.

During a dialogue between HKUST president Wei Shyy and students on Wednesday night, a student from the Chinese mainland accused of pushing a masked protester was beaten by a crowd of protesters. 

Even when security guards tried to maintain order and protect him, black-clad students struck his head and attacked him with an umbrella. Video of the brutal beating shows a bloody wound on the student's forehead. 

The public was shocked by what observers believed to be the first incident of rioters resorting to "vigilante justice" on a campus, as the use of violence continues to rise in the city.  They demand an end to violence at the Hong Kong campus.

Tang Fei, a member of the Council of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times that the response, although a little late, was a timely one under the current situation, which clearly states its stance and vows to cooperate with police, adding that he is not optimistic about the result as the investigation is based on CCTV footage, not the crime scene. 

"Hong Kong universities are facing a serious decline in the number of new enrollments. Most of the students are locals while much of the remainder come from the mainland. The anti-mainland atmosphere will scare mainland students and turn higher education colleges into a nest or breeding ground for hyping hatred," Tang said

Application agents in the mainland estimated that the number of students going to Hong Kong colleges in 2020 would decline by 5 to 10 percent, media reported.   

If those who hold "bad" morality enter society, the entire Hong Kong community should be worried, Tang noted. 

The school said much of its campus had been vandalized on Friday and classes remained cancelled on Monday.