Tensions ran high at the Chinese University yesterday as students holding different views on independence engaged in a fiery exchange.
The confrontation escalated after some pro-establishment students put up posters that criticized the students' union. Ten students from Treasure Group, which opposes independence, protested on campus, pointing fingers and exchanging swear words with student unionists and their supporters.
The group wanted the university to expel pro-independence students, calling them "ungrateful" to the country. The protesters refused to leave despite being told to do so by security guards, and continued the war of words for an hour until 6pm.
Separately, some students had put up posters saying "CUSU [Chinese University student union] is not CU" on bulletin boards. The posters, written in English and simplified Chinese, also said "no referendum, no vote. How dare you represent all CUHK students?"
The posters were put up two days after a mainland student was filmed tearing up a pro-independence poster. She was advised by a member of the students' union to put up posters to express her opinions instead of damaging those of others.
There were at least two more poster damage incidents yesterday. In one case, a poster claiming "We don't want the anthem law" had some characters ripped off.
The student union hit back at critics, saying it was elected by more than 10,000 students. It also said it kept pro- independence posters on the bulletin board to demonstrate freedom of expression.
A new banner saying "Hong Kong independence" remains on the campus after staff took one down before inauguration on Monday.
Some repetitive pro-independence posters have been removed so that students with different opinions can post theirs, the union said.
Chinese University vice chancellor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu issued an open letter yesterday, calling upon students to respect each other when discussing political matters.
"The campus should be a place to learn and is not a battleground for politics. As school term starts, our students should be allowed a quiet learning environment," he said.
Hong Kong independence goes against the Basic Law and his personal view, Sung said.
There are 2,877 mainland students at CUHK, representing 15 percent of the student population.