Report on Academic Freedom in Hong Kong

January 23, 2018

Academic freedom in Hong Kong has faced growing threats since the 2014 pro-democracy “Occupy” protests, in which students and faculty played a central role, a new report argues.

The report, published by Hong Kong Watch, a London-based human rights organization, and authored by Kevin Carrico, a lecturer of Chinese studies at Australia’s Macquarie University, argues that since early 2015, “a growing top-down backlash has attempted to limit academic freedom and bring academia under the authorities’ control.” The report identifies three main trends associated with what it describes as “this post-Occupy retribution,” including retaliation against controversial academic figures who have been removed from their posts or blocked from promotions; “a growing push to place limits on freedom of speech,” in particular speech related to Hong Kong independence; and the politicization of university governing councils. Specifically, the report argues that “state-appointed and politically connected figures have governed universities in a manner divorced from the will of students and faculty.”

“Although academic work in Hong Kong remains considerably freer than in the rest of the People’s Republic of China, these trends suggest that elements of academic control in place elsewhere in China are gradually being incorporated into the Hong Kong system, threatening the city’s academic freedom and thus its universities’ reputations,” the report says.

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