A Shanghai filmmaker has accused a University of Hong Kong professor of censorship after he was ordered to remove politically sensitive Facebook posts for the school's film festival. He was also barred from holding a memorial for Beijing flood victims at the event.
Director Ying Liang, a guest programmer for the HKU Indie Film Festival last week, said he posted on the event's Facebook page that a guest was not allowed to attend because he had been jailed for taking part in democracy protests on the mainland.
Ying then received an e-mail from Yu Xuying, a PhD graduate who helped organise the festival, asking him to delete the posts.
'The department [of comparative literature] will have to withdraw its support when they know that we have strayed from the neutral stance that we take,' she wrote.
Dr Esther Yau Ching-mei, associate professor of the department, also told Ying that they would not support 'unsolicited personal statements that do not represent the department or HKU'.
Ying's postings were still on the page.
He said he was disappointed by the apparent censorship. 'From this experience, I think [Hong Kong universities] are no different from those on the mainland.'
The 35-year-old had previously been warned by mainland security officials against showing his drama When Night Falls at a Korean film festival earlier this year, saying he could be barred from returning home.
The movie is based on the real-life case of Yang Jia, who was executed in 2008 for killing six policemen in Shanghai, allegedly in retaliation for earlier police abuse Yang suffered.
The director decided to defy orders against showing the film, and he did not go back to the mainland. Ying now teaches in Hong Kong and his work visa - due to expire next month - was renewed until November.
Ying also said that Yau, the associate professor, told him not to arrange a session to mourn those who died in the Beijing floods.
'Mourning shall be from the heart and a voluntary, honest activity. To force people to follow a mourning agenda is like a show in a public event. For this I have to disagree,' she said in the e-mail, copies of which were shown to the Post.
Yau said the festival was organised for Ying as she wanted to show her support for independent filmmakers. She said it was a misunderstanding and the e-mails were just a discussion of the matters. She had no intention of censoring anything.
Yau also stressed that the university was not funding the event. The university said it advocated diversity and freedom of speech.
Yu did not reply to e-mails.
Ying stressed that the film festival was well-received, though he said he thought both Yau and Yu were trying to distance themselves from political issues to avoid repercussions.
He said he would donate all the money he earned from helping organise the event to a Chongqing film festival.