Baptist University student cuts short Guangzhou internship due to phone threats
Callers said they would beat up Andrew Chan Lok-hang, who had taken part in recent protest over Mandarin test
A Chinese medicine student who took part in a recent protest against a Mandarin graduation requirement at Baptist University was forced to cut short his internship at a mainland hospital after staff received calls threatening his personal safety.
Andrew Chan Lok-hang, a fifth-year student who arrived in Guangzhou on Saturday for a one-year internship at the Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine returned to Hong Kong on Tuesday night after a discussion with the university.
The hospital had received more than 100 calls about Chan, with some callers threatening to beat him up. Facebook users claiming to be from Guangzhou also left messages on Chan’s page warning him to watch out.
Chan said the university had offered to ask a teacher to stay there with him, but he chose to return home.
The student, who regards himself as a local culture conservationist, does not support Hong Kong independence and rejects the localist label. He founded Cantonese support group Societas Linguistica Hongkongensis in 2013 to promote the use of Cantonese in a counter movement against the increasing prevalence of Mandarin.
Chan previously drew criticism from internet communities on the mainland in 2016 when he initiated a referendum on campus to call for the abolition of a Mandarin requirement necessary for graduation. He said this was prompted by a mainland student who posted a note on a campus noticeboard complaining he could not understand emails sent by the school’s student union as they were written with traditional Chinese characters.
On January 17, Chan joined 30 students in a protest over the results of a Mandarin test. They stormed and occupied the university’s Language Centre for eight hours, with student union president Lau Tsz-kei hurling vulgarities at staff, drawing severe criticism from both on and off campus. Chan was seen confronting a foreign teacher in English during the action.
A day before the incident, Chan said on his Facebook page: “After finishing this I will go to Guangzhou for an internship and see you in a year.” It is believed that this message was what drew attention to him from the mainland.
His premature farewell to the top Chinese medicine hospital did not upset Chan.
“It’s not a pity. It’s now a matter of personal safety,” Chan said after reaching Hong Kong on Tuesday night, adding that the university would arrange another internship for him.
“[The interrupted internship] will not dampen my will for the Cantonese language conservation campaign,” Chan added.
Intimidating messages from Hongkongers were also seen on his Facebook page, but the student said he would just be more careful and had no plan to contact police.