Don’t give up on Hong Kong’s younger generation

Re: “University president condemns attack on security guards”, I have read the abbreviated version of the article in this publication as well as the more comprehensive full original in the newspaper that published it.

Furthermore, I commend University World News for publishing this information, bringing it to the attention of the wider academic community.

It is my sense that the actions reported deserve unambiguous comments. The actions on campus of the student in question are probably an act of desperation, but nobody should condone any form of violence.

However, the response of the president of the Chinese University of Hong Kong appear more designed to appease superiors in Hong Kong and probably also China itself rather than resolving the situation at hand in Hong Kong generally and on campus specifically.

They also appear unhelpful in de-escalating the matters at hand.

Therefore, some other reactions reported in the newspaper article itself, such as from the former Hong Kong Baptist University president Roland Chin Tai-hong who reportedly urged members of the wider community “not to give up on the younger generation” as they represented society’s future, are noteworthy.

Furthermore, it is important to note that Owen Au Cheuk-hei, the current chair of the student union’s executive committee, said that “the university has not yet fully explained to students the powers of security guards on campus, for instance, on what grounds could security personnel chase a student, forcefully pull the student into a vehicle and detain him”.

This combustible situation on campus and in Hong Kong more generally should be resolved through peaceful dialogue.

It is noteworthy to remember that academic collaborations have been essential in maintaining ties through great difficulties in recent decades, eg, the Cold War during the second half of the last century.

I, for myself, will continue to collaborate with Hong Kong as best as my conscience allows me in the spirit of bridging difficulties in our world to better the lives of all humankind.

However, we should also foster free speech and democracy.

Juergen Reichardt, PhD, is adjunct professor, Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, Division of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, Australia.