HKU's Arthur Li slams local students for having "mentality of losers" and not being able to compete with mainland students

Sebastien Raybaud with additional reporting by staff writer

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen defends Hong Kong students after criticism by HKU's governing council chairman Arthur Li

Sebastien Raybaud with additional reporting by staff writer |

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The pro-independence posters at Chinese University caused protests.

Ip Kin-yuen, Hong Kong’s education lawmaker, has challenged comments made by Hong Kong University’s governing council chairman, Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, about local students having a “mentality of losers” when facing competition from mainland peers. Ip said that Li was “belittling others”.

Li originally made the comments on Sunday regarding pro-independence posters on university campuses. He said that young people only want independence because they are afraid of competing with young people from the mainland for jobs.

“Why do people still want Hong Kong independence? It’s very simple. Our young people in the university cannot compete with our mainland students in terms of scholarships, in terms of prizes; mainland students are winning all the way,” said Li.

“Instead of saying, ‘let’s lift our game, let’s compete’, they are saying ‘we don’t want to play with you any more, we want to run away, we want to be independent from you’. It’s basically the mentality of losers,” said Li.

Ip responded by saying Li does not have enough evidence to support his claims about young people.

“Who exactly is he trying to refer to when he says young people are advocating independence and are weaker than others - they could be leaders, followers or students,” said Ip.

“Li is used to this type of talking - belittling others. [In the past] he has talked about how HKU teaching staff were incompetent. This is not a fair way to compare two different groups of people, who have a different idea for achievement - whether this may be scholarships or career success,” said Ip.

The pro-independence posters which sparked Li’s comments have been the source of controversy since they first appeared at Chinese University around two weeks ago. The issue spread to other campuses, with student unions from 12 Hong Kong universities jointly stating that teachers and students should be free to discuss Hong Kong independence because their freedom of speech was protected by the Article 27 of the Basic Law.