Groups oppose 'Communist' academic's HKU job

Local | 26 Oct 2020 5:17 pm

Civil groups and pro-democracy district councillors today voiced their opposition against a supposed plan by the University of Hong Kong to name a mainland professor – who they say is a Chinese Communist Party member – as a vice president of the institution, RTHK reports.

They said the news is shocking and worrying, as it would undermine the university's autonomy and academic freedom.

They said Shen Zuojun, who media reports say might take up the post of vice president for research, was listed as a Chinese Communist Party committee member on the Tsinghua University's website but it was later removed.

Another mainland professor, Gong Peng, could fill the post of vice president for academic development.

The university has refused to comment, only saying that parts of the media reports are inconsistent with the facts.

The president of the university's student union, Edy Jeh, said the appointments would be unacceptable.

“We don't accept anyone with political affiliations to be appointed as the vice president of the university,” she said

“We believe that if that happens, it's quite possible they will take part in a lot of policy decision making. It will affect the development as well as the future of the university,” she said.

“It's actually a declaration that they are letting the government and the Chinese Communist Party take control of the university,” she said.

A Southern District councillor and an HKU alumnus Pang Cheuk-kee described it as a political appointment.

“The president of the University of Hong Kong, Zhang Xiang, is making use of the appointments to show the central government that they have got the institution under control,” he said.

He also criticized a lack of transparency in the selection process.

The appointments could be endorsed on Tuesday and the professors could take up the positions from January next year at the earliest.

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