Banners calling for Hong Kong independence were strung up several universities and community colleges on October 1 as activists sought to send a message to Beijing on China’s National Day.
Large red and white banners were seen draped over the walls of buildings at more than ten educational institutions, including the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).
The identity of the people who put up the banners is not known, but the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) admitted to providing and designing the materials, according to Apple Daily.
HKNP, a pro-independence political party founded in March this year, claimed that students from 15 educational institutions were involved in the activity.
Apart from HKU and CUHK, banners were seen at six other universities — Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Hong Kong Baptist University, The City University of Hong Kong, the Education University of Hong Kong, Lingnan University, and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
Meanwhile, some community colleges, including the Caritas Institute of Higher Education and the Hang Seng Management College, also saw similar activity.
Elsewhere, a banner was seen strung over a slope opposite Shin Ming Estate, a public housing complex, in Tiu Keng Leng.
It was the only banner to be put up outside of school premises.
At HKU, the banner reading “Hong Kong Independence” was hung on the bridge between the main library and the Knowles building.
Security guards immediately set up a blockade and removed the banner at around 11 am.
HKNP said it merely produced and distributed the banners and that it was not involved in actually putting them up.
Party leader Chan Ho-tin said the Oct. 1 events show that independence idea is gaining popularity and support within the universities.
The hanging of the banners proves that the notion of Hong Kong Independence is growing stronger, and that “National Day is not a day for celebration, but a humiliation to Hong Kong”, he said.
News website hk01.com noted that it’s not clear if some students approached HKNP for the banners or if it was the other way round.
HKU Student Union President Althea Suen Hiu-nam has denied the student body played a role in putting up a banner at the university, but said the message from the activity is clear.
Lau Siu-Kai, vice-chairperson of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said the banners may upset the Chinese government.
However, one should bear in mind that the activists were “merely students and not adults”, he told Apple Daily.
Ma Ngok, a professor at CUHK’s Department of Government and Public Administration, said he believes the act of defiance will “not result in much of a stir in the PRC”, although media outlets such as Global Times will make an issue of it.
The Education Bureau, meanwhile, stressed that pursuit of independence is against the Basic Law.
While the Bureau respects autonomy within schools, the educational institutions must take some responsibility for the students’ actions, it said.
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