Hong Kong’s version of the National Security Law reaches out to university campuses and suppresses student organizations on all fronts

University student union organizations in Hong Kong are becoming key targets of Beijing authorities following the implementation of the National Security Law. The Chinese University of Hong Kong recently asked its elected members to stop holding student union positions. It is feared that other universities and colleges in Hong Kong will follow in the footsteps of the Chinese University of Hong Kong once this example is set.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong Student Union Officers’ Association was elected on Wednesday (24) with 3,983 votes, but a day later the university informed the student union that it would suspend collecting student union dues; the student union would have to register as an independent association or company and bear its own legal responsibility; and the university suspended providing administrative and University venue support, etc.

In the face of the national security haze, many universities and colleges have not been elected to the student union, only CUHK and PolyU have a full cabinet elected. Now, with half a century of history, CUHK student union is the first to be hollowed out by the university, which makes people worry that the student organizations in Hong Kong will disappear from now on.

CUHK is suspected to be under political pressure from outside, and the student union incident may be elevated to the national security level.

The former president of the CUHK Student Union and senior lecturer in the Department of Politics and Administration at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Cai Ziqiang, told the station that outside pressure has been exerted on the CUHK management recently, such as the recent Legislative Council Finance Committee, CUHK withdrew its funding application, the pressure specifically exists.

Tsai Tzu-keung: “I believe that recently, if you have paid attention to a lot of public opinion outside, the pressure on the university is very strong, there are many fierce criticism, and even the demand for accountability, etc., also happened for a short period of Time. So now than in the past purely school problems, the school and students have different views, and then we when the house enterprise mutual understanding and accommodation to solve, now I believe the situation is much more complicated.”

Cai Ziqiang described the incident as the most confrontational in the history of CUHK between the university and the student union, the incident is not an “internal incident”, but with the situation in Hong Kong, and even “will be elevated” to the level of national security. He hopes that the university and the students can understand each other and solve the problem through discussion.

In the past half century, CUHK students have participated in many social movements, such as the “China Kwan Society” in the 1970s, and the angling campaign, and supported the “democratic reunification” of Hong Kong with the motherland, encouraging CUHK students to care about China’s development over the years.

The university’s perverse approach breaks with CUHK’s tradition of university politics

After the news of the crackdown on the student union became public, many CU students questioned whether the university’s move violated the school’s tradition of “shared governance by students and staff”. Former Student Union Officers’ Association “Starfire” cabinet member and Tuen Mun District Councilor Poon Chi-Kin described the university as “using all the grey areas of the university regulations to suppress students”. The university’s request for student union registration as an independent association or company is tantamount to violating the spirit of The Chinese University of Hong Kong Ordinance, that is, the student union is a statutory organization, denouncing CUHK’s move is to draw a clear line with the student union.

Poon Chi-Key: “According to The Chinese University of Hong Kong Ordinance, the student union is an organization established under the Ordinance, and other institutions are different. The matter of being an independent society is not something that has not been discussed before. In the early years, there were discussions about the registration of student organizations under the Student Union, and we discussed opening our own independent association, but we found that we could not do it unless we had to amend the legislation in the Legislative Council. The Societies Ordinance states that if an organization is established by other laws, it is not regulated by the Societies Ordinance. Therefore, we do not see any reasonable justification for CUHK’s request under the existing legislation. “

The relationship between the university and the student union can be very fragile, there is no clear definition of the power of the university and the student union, and can only rely on the habits and tacit understanding of the two sides over the years, plus depending on the attitude of the senior management of the university, can determine the amount of space for the survival of the student union.

In addition to the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Baptist University on Friday suddenly canceled the “2020 World Press Photo Exhibition” scheduled to be held at the university, citing “campus safety, security and maintenance of Epidemic prevention measures” as the reason. The exhibition organizing committee expressed regret over the sudden cancellation of the exhibition. The award-winning works of the “2020 World Press Photo Exhibition” included photos of Hong Kong’s “Anti-Sending China Campaign”.