As protests in Hong Kong escalate in scale and intensity, tensions are mounting in other parts of the city, particularly on campuses where local students and those from mainland China share close quarters. This is most apparent at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), where a series of on-campus protests and counter-protests has fractured the community.
Things really soured earlier last month, when Zhang Xiang, the president of HKU and a Chinese-American physicist born in mainland China, issued a statement condemning the “destructive acts” of young protestors who broke into and vandalized the city’s legislative building on July 1. The HKU Student Union responded with a statement of its own, accusing Zhang of failing to respect the youth’s freedom of expression and understanding their frustration.
One week later, on July 12, a group of protesters, including many local students, marched to Zhang’s residence to demand a dialogue with him. Posters reading “Revive HKU, expel Zhang Xiang” were put up around campus. A clear divide began to form between those from mainland China and those from Hong Kong; there seemed to be no middle ground.