Chinese University postpones visit by Hong Kong PLA troops

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 7:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 10:42pm

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Chinese University postponed at the last minute a visit by the Hong Kong garrison of the People’s Liberation Army because the activity would have “failed to achieve its original purpose”.

The decision came after complaints from student leaders and alumni that the university should not be opening its doors to the PLA, which is supposed to be in the city only for defensive purposes.

The university said the visit, which was supposed to provide an opportunity for the institution and the garrison to learn about one another, would not take place as planned on Friday. No new date for the visit was given.

“The university and the garrison have decided after a discussion to postpone the visit, after considering that there were some people who had misunderstood the event, and therefore it would not be able to achieve its original purpose,” the statement said.

The announcement came after the university last month extended an invitation to its students to take part in the event.

A spokeswoman said a preliminary plan for the one-day event had included sightseeing around the university campus for the soldiers, a seminar, and a basketball game between students and troops. She said the plans were subject to change however.

The number of garrison members invited and their rankings were not available.

The president of the university’s student union, Wong Ching-fung, said he welcomed the university’s move to postpone, but was disappointed the university had not cancelled altogether.

He said there had been no misunderstanding among students about the visit, as suggested in the university’s public statement.

“The garrison is supposed to observe its sole duty of defending the city, not join social activities … We cannot accept having ball games with an organisation that were killers in the 1989 pro-democracy movement in Beijing,” Wong said.

The student union said the event was an effort by the university to ingratiate itself and would weaken the institution’s autonomy.

Since 2007, PLA troops have paid visits to the University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Baptist University, City University, Polytechnic University, the Open University and Chu Hai College. It also organises regular open days for the public.

The university expressed its gratitude to those students who had applied to join the event or helped organise it. The visit was first announced at the end of last month.