Hong Kong students were forced to take down material from a freshers’ stall supporting the former British Crown Colony’s democracy protests at the University of York, following complaints by mainland Chinese students.
Security under the control of the students’ union claimed that freshers’ fair stalls “should not contain politics”, according to reports — a claim which seems ridiculous on its face, given stalls belonging to party political and campaigning societies are ubiquitous at such fairs, including York’s — and told the Hong Kongers to remove anything written in Cantonese or Mandarin from their “Lennon wall” about the protests.
“We felt pressured [to remove our material],” one of the Hong Kong students confirmed in comments to The Times. “[Security] ordered us to take it down.”
The newspaper noted that Hong Kongers “have not received much support from British students”, perhaps because British students’ unions tend be strongly left-leaning and sympathetic to Marxism in general, if not the Chinese Communist Party in particular — and absolutely unsympathetic to the British Empire or the evident fondness which many Hong Kongers still have for it.
Hong Kongers Sing 'God Save the Queen', Ask Brits to Protect Them from Communist Regime https://t.co/Bv0OeaYYDA
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 15, 2019
The university has come under criticism for its appeasement-style approach to the issue, with Matthew Lesh of the Adam Smith Institute warning that British universities more broadly “are becoming useful idiots in the strategic and propaganda efforts of a nation opposed to liberal democratic values” in an article for the Telegraph.
Lesh suggested that universities like York may not only be contravening the Education Act 1986, which obliges universities to “ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers”, but “may even be actively helping the Chinese state’s despotic efforts” through their work on facial recognition technology and the inclusion of “about 500 Chinese military scientists” on research projects covering everything from “jet aircraft and missiles to supercomputers”.
British Flag Becomes Symbol of Hong Kong Defiance to Chinese Communist Regime https://t.co/PcrnnfaAfK
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 5, 2019
The University of York now claim they “looking into the circumstances” surrounding the freshers’ fair incident in response to the public backlash, telling local press that they “believe universities should provide a platform where a variety of views can be debated and challenged, and we remain committed to creating a positive environment which is fair, welcoming and inclusive.”
“If students have any concerns about material they see on campus we would encourage them to contact the university’s equality and diversity office,” they added.
Hong Kong Protesters Appeal to Donald Trump to ‘Liberate’ Them https://t.co/r6yt1xSwJc
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 8, 2019