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Hong Kong localism and independence

Mainland Chinese student in Hong Kong apologises for independence poster comments

After angry online response to derogatory term, 24-year-old declares ‘deep affection’ for China

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 September, 2017, 9:53pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 September, 2017, 12:24pm

A mainland student at a Hong Kong university has been forced to apologise publicly twice and pledge allegiance to his country after he criticised another mainland student who spoke out against the idea of independence for the city.

Tang Lipei said he was sorry, and declared his “deep affection for the country I was born and raised in” after online pressure from a university academic and others.

He had come in for online criticism for, as some saw it, supporting the separation of Hong Kong from China.

Meanwhile, Xinhua news agency urged the Hong Kong government, in a commentary, to quickly resolve the furore over pro-independence posters appearing on campuses.

Clashes between local and mainland students at Hong Kong universities have flared up over the past two weeks.

Nothing wrong with Hong Kong independence posters as long as no advocacy: university head

On Tuesday last week, a video was posted online of a female mainland student at Chinese University tearing down posters on campus that advocated a breakaway.

Quarrels later broke out on the same campus when local students tried to stop several mainlanders putting up posters saying they no longer wanted to be represented by the student union, which had defended people’s right to post pro-independence posters.

Tang, a 24-year-old mainlander studying at Chinese University, wrote a post on Chinese social networking site Weibo saying the woman in the video had misinterpreted democracy, which he said can not be realised by removing others’ views.

He also commented on democracy and freedom of speech.

But mainland users questioned whether Tang supported Hong Kong independence. During an ensuing argument, Tang used “zhi qu”, a derogatory Putonghua term, with similar connotations to that of “Cheena maggots”, “Cheena” being an insulting name for China.

Tang got a bachelor’s degree at Chinese University, where he is now doing his postgraduate studies. He was identified online as a top scorer on China’s university entrance examination in Luzhou, a city in Sichuan province. His secondary school Luzhou Tianli International School then removed his honour from its website.

Tang later deleted discussions related to the offensive term, and gave his first apology on Weibo on Saturday, saying his use of the word was “impulsive”. He added that he was “strongly against Hong Kong independence”.

But then a Peking University professor, Zhang Yiwu, said he was saddened that Tang insulted “compatriots and the hometown that gave birth to him and raised him”. On Wednesday, the Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times posted on instant messaging site WeChat, saying his behaviour was “chilling”.

Later on Wednesday, Tang issued a second apology on Weibo, in which he acknowledged what he said was a lack of maturity. He said he would reflect on his actions.

“I have a deep affection for the country I was born and raised in. As a Chinese, I wish to offer my sincere apologies to all again,” his Weibo post read.

In a commentary posted on Wednesday, Xinhua said discussion of Hong Kong independence had poisoned campuses and went against the rule of law.

The article added that the issue should be resolved as soon as possible according to the law.