On September 5 an argument erupted between a mainland Chinese student and Hong Kong students on the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Footage of the incident shows a mainland Chinese student tearing down posters in support of Hong Kong independence put up by local students. As soon as they became aware of it, Hong Kong students surrounded and questioned her.
“Why are you tearing down those posters?” the students asked in Cantonese.
“I don’t understand [Cantonese],” she replied in Mandarin. “I only know those posters shouldn’t be there.”
“This is our democracy wall,” a Hong Kong student responded in English.
“Yeah, you can put it on, I can put it down, okay?”, the mainlander said. “If you’re talking about democracy, you can put it up and I can put it down.”
“If you do not agree with the students that put it on, you should put something that is against this on the wall,” a Hong Kong student said.
The mainland student said that there was no space for her to put something else on the wall and asked: “Who gave you the right?”
“The students and the school,” the Hong Kong students replied.
“I am one of the students and I don’t agree with that,” the mainlander said. She also criticized the fact that people were filming her, accusing them of trying to “expose her” so as to intimidate her. “I don’t approve [of] this behaviour from the Students’ Union,” she went on.
While she was walking away, a Hong Kong student said: “I don’t understand why we don’t have the right to do this.”
The mainland student turned around: “Because that’s not from the students!” she shouted.
The incident was picked up by mainland Chinese media which supported the young student’s outburst of “righteous indignation” against “Hong Kong independence.”
The student, who was later interviewed by mainland Chinese news website Guancha, said that while she was having dinner at the cafeteria of the campus she heard that someone was putting up pro-Hong Kong independence posters. According to her story, other students were also angry about it, so she vowed to remove the posters.
When asked by Guancha reporters why she was opposed to the posters, she said:
“First of all Hong Kong is part of China, this is common knowledge. Second, this kind of thing is illegal. When these illegal posters were put up in broad daylight, I felt it wasn’t right, I got angry and went to tear them down.”
On Monday, September 04, students had put up “Hong Kong independence” banners and posters on the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), coinciding with the start of the new academic year.
The banners were later removed and a spokesman for CUHK said that the school was “absolutely not in favour of Hong Kong independence.” Students said that the removal of the banners was curbing their freedom of speech and that all issues should be openly discussed. The mainland student who later took down the posters referred to the University’s statement as a proof that what she was doing was right.
CUHK vice chancellor Professor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu said that the school is “a place with freedom of speech”, adding that as long as protests are “not illegal or disruptive to other people’s learning, we will not have too big of a reaction.”
Ever since Hong Kong was handed over to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1997, Beijing has tried to impose Chinese nationalism as a unifying ideology that can consolidate the ‘one country, two systems‘ framework.
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