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Hong Kong university to punish students protesting Mandarin test

A little over two months after a group of students from Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) stormed the school’s language center to demonstrate strong objection to a compulsory Mandarin-language proficiency test, the university announced today that the two leading students in the protest would receive punishments, local newspaper On.cc reports (in Chinese).

According to Mai Yunwei 麦筠玮, vice chairman of the student union of HKBU, the school decided to bar Lau Tsz-kei 刘子颀, the former student union president, from classes for one semester, and Andrew Chan Lok-hang 陈乐行, a fifth-year Chinese medicine student, for eight days. The pair was notified of the results last week.

Given that both students already got suspended following the incident in January, Chan’s eight-day suspension is considered already completed, but he is required to fulfill 40 hours of  community service on campus. In addition, Lau and Chan must write apology letters to the language center staff by April 12.

Hong Kong university groups rally behind students suspended for protesting Mandarin test

The controversy began on January 17, when the duo, joined by some 30 students, broke into the language center and staged a protest that lasted for eight hours. In a video showing the confrontation, Lau and Chan pressure the staffers to release grading criteria and demand a cancellation of the exam, which students at HKBU have been campaigning against for a long time. Though no students engaged in physical violence, some of them were temporarily suspended after the university declared that their use of profanity and aggressive behavior made school staff feel “insulted” and “threatened.” Disciplinary proceedings were called to further assess the severity of the issue.

Right after the video went viral on the internet and HKBU suspended them temporarily, Lau and Chan hosted a press conference to voice their objection to the university’s decision before conducting a thorough investigation into the case, arguing that by punishing dissident students at school, HKBU is clearly trying to stifle freedom of speech on campus under external influence.

The latest announcement of punishment for the duo only intensified their anger toward the school’s authorities: The South China Morning Post reports that Lau and Chan consider the findings “unjust” and have vowed to appeal.

Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.

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