Hong Kong University Heads Condemn ‘Abuses’ of Free Speech

September 18, 2017

Leaders of 10 Hong Kong universities issued a statement condemning “recent abuses” of free expression and opposing Hong Kong independence following the display of pro-independence banners and posters on various campuses, the Hong Kong Free Press and South China Morning Post reported. 

“We treasure freedom of expression, but we condemn its recent abuses,” says the statement from the 10 university leaders. "All universities undersigned agree that we do not support Hong Kong independence, which contravenes the Basic Law.”

Twelve student unions jointly issued a statement rebutting that of the university heads, and saying that the Basic Law governing Hong Kong’s relationship with China guarantees them the freedom of speech to discuss the issue of Hong Kong independence. Article 1 of the Basic Law describes China as "an inalienable part of the People's Republic of China," but Article 27 states that "Hong Kong residents shall have freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration; and the right and freedom to form and join trade unions, and to strike."

Students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong are camping out to protect pro-independence signs after the university president told the student union to take them down or risk having them removed by senior administrators, according to the South China Morning Post.

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has said it will remove pro-independence signs on campus in order "to protect students, in order to prevent them from possibly violating the law." The university said it "has a responsibility to tell students that there are limits to freedom of speech, including content that is offensive, insulting, or encourages others to break the law," according to a report from the Hong Kong Free Press.


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