Posts Tagged ‘Lingnan University’

University of Hong Kong will not pursue students who hung up pro-independence banners on China National Day, president says

October 3, 2016

Peter Mathieson says institution believes in freedom of speech but students must respect rules and regulations

By Phila Siu
South China Morning Post

Monday, October 3, 2016, 10:47 p.m.

The University of Hong Kong will not pursue the students who hung pro-independence banners around campus without permission on National Day, president and vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson said.

The professor explained the conciliatory approach by saying he and the institution believed in freedom of speech, but at the same time issued a warning to students to respect the rules and regulations of the 105-year-old university.

The head of the city’s most prestigious place of learning made the remarks after banners saying “Hong Kong Independence” sprung up at eight universities, including HKU and Chinese University, across the city during National Day on Saturday.

The Hong Kong National Party, a pro-independence group led by young people, admitted it had provided the banners, but insisted students had taken the initiative to pin them up.

“The university has made its position clear on the issue of Hong Kong independence. We believe in freedom of speech and we also believe in respect for rules and regulations,” Mathieson said on Monday after attending an event promoting healthy lifestyles.

 Banners saying “Hong Kong Independence” sprung up at eight universities, including this one at Baptist University. Photo: SCMP Pictures

“Regarding banners, we have a process at the university where students can get permission to hang them,” he said. “I think these particular banners hadn’t been through that process and so they were taken down at HKU, as I think they were at all the universities.”

The institution would not be tracking down those who hung them, he said.

In August, Mathieson read a prepared statement to the media spelling out the university’s position on the issue of independence. He said it was not a realistic option and would not be in the best interests of HKU.

Those remarks came amid growing discontent among young people with the city’s political status quo. Many said the “one country, two systems” formula had been damaged and independence was the only way out.

 This banner appeared at the University of Hong Kong. Photo: SCMP Pictures

On Monday, Mathieson said he wanted students to be able to express themselves, but that they needed to do so in the context of what was permissible under the law and responsible.

Asked what the government should do to respond to growing discontent among the young, he said it was not for him to tell officials what to do.

“We recognise there are differences of opinion in Hong Kong. We reflect those in the university, our staff and alumni. So I think debates on contentious issues are always healthy but should always be done in a responsible way, without violence, without breaking the law,” he said.

Meanwhile, New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee met Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Monday. Leung was said to be seeking Ip’s opinions for his last policy address before his current term expires next year.

Ip told Leung he should address the issue of independence before support grows stronger.

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Hong Kong Advocates of Independence from China Dare The Wrath of Beijing — A student familiar with such things told Peace and Freedom: “We aren’t dead yet.”

October 2, 2016

Reuters

Sat Oct 1, 2016 | 8:25am EDT

Around a dozen Hong Kong universities draped large banners calling for the city’s independence on China’s National Day, defying authorities with demands for the Chinese controlled territory to split with mainland China.

Large banners reading “Hong Kong independence” were strung up across the financial city on Saturday, local broadcaster RTHK reported.

The statement said it was not clear who put up the large red and white banners but before lunchtime, the banners at Baptist University and City University in Kowloon Tong had already been removed.

Schools in the special administrative region are becoming a new battleground in a nascent campaign for the city’s independence.

The free-wheeling business hub has been on edge over the past couple of years over a campaign by some residents to preserve and promote their city’s freedoms in the face of what they see as a bid by Beijing to curb them.

The former British territory returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” pact meant to safeguard its ways but the refusal of Beijing to give ground on a demand for full democracy has sapped many people’s faith in the formula.

Debate on independence was once unheard of in Hong Kong and for most residents it remains a youthful dream rather than a serious proposal that Beijing will ever consider.

But the fact that it is being debated illustrates what many in the city consider a sea change brought about by 79 days of student-led pro-democracy protests in 2014.

Since then, many city residents have decried what they see as increasing Beijing interference in various sectors to stifle dissent, including in schools.

(Reporting by Farah Master and Joyce Zhou; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

Related:

 (Maybe soon the Philippines)

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National Day protest: banners calling for Hong Kong’s independence appear at eight city universities

By Stuart Lau
South China Morning Post
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Banners were found hanging on the walls of buildings in many of the city’s universities on Saturday, including the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University

Saturday, October 1, 2016, 8:10pm

Banners saying “Hong Kong Independence” sprung up at eight universities across the city on China’s National Day.

The banners were found hanging on the walls of buildings in most universities on Saturday, including the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and theUniversity of Science and Technology.

 A banner hanged inside the Hong Kong University. Photo: Facebook

Similar banners – denoting defiance of mainland sovereignty over the former British colony – were also found at Baptist University, City University, Lingnan University and the Education University of Hong Kong.

Some of the schools reportedly removed the political exhibits.

 A banner at Chinese University. Photo: Facebook

The Hong Kong National Party, a pro-independence group led by youngsters, admitted it provided the banners to students, but insisted the action was taken on the students’ own initiative.

In a Facebook message posted a few days ago, the party asked students not to celebrate National Day and called China a “colonial master” of Hong Kong.

 A banner at Lingnan University. Photo: Facebook

 A banner at Polytechnic University. Photo: Facebook

 A banner at the Science and Technology University. Photo: Facebook

 A banner at City University. Photo: Facebook

 A banner at the The Education University of Hong Kong. Photo: Facebook
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 http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/2024287/national-day-protest-banners-calling-hong-kongs-independence
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A student familiar with such things told Peace and Freedom: “We aren’t dead yet.”

China still has Internet censorship like nobody else….

Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, religious freedom and academic freedom and still greatly limited in China.

China has a huge number of public safety problems that result in reckless endangerment to human lives. Here: A general view showing fire and smoke after an explosion at a paraxylene chemical plant in Zhangzhou, China’s Fujian province, 06 April 2015. Three people were injured in a chemical plant blast that the factory produces paraxylene (PX), an industrial chemical used for making fiber and plastics. As many as 783 firefighters and 131 fire engines are battling the fire, according to the media. EPA/LIU HAIBIN

Related:

Daring to demand respect: Women protest against China’s lack of laws to protect the rights of women. They were all arrested just after this image was taken in Med April, 2015.
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A large hole is seen on the ground in the Chinese port city of Tianjin Saturday. At least 100 people were killed and more than 700 injured in Wednesday’s explosions.
A large hole is seen on the ground in the Chinese port city of Tianjin after a chemical explosion. At least 170 people were killed and more than 700 injured in several explosions which started on Wednesday, 12 August 2015. EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
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In this November 20, 2015 file photo, workers sort coal on a conveyer belt near a coal mine at Datong, in China’s northern Shanxi province. Getty Images
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Philippines President Duterte’s Tilt Toward China Will Cause Others to Re-Think Strategy in Asia — “He’s obviously given this a lot of strategic thought”

September 16, 2016

By David Tweed and 
Bloomberg News

Just when some of China’s neighbors were seeking to curtail its expansionism, along came Rodrigo Duterte.

In less than three months on the job, the 71 year-old Philippine leader has used expletives in talking about U.S. President Barack Obama and vowed to end cooperation with the U.S. military in both fighting terrorism and patrolling the disputed South China Sea. He’s moved to boost economic and defense ties with China and Russia.

While Duterte is unpredictable — one day calling China “generous” and the next threatening a “bloody” war if Beijing attacked — his behavior has undermined U.S. efforts to rally nations from Japan to Vietnam to Australia to stand up to China’s military assertiveness.

 
President Barack Obama, second from left, and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, second from right, face each other on the podium before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gala dinner in Vientiane, Laos, on Sept. 7. RITCHIE B. TONGO / EPA

In doing so, he risks shifting from the 1951 Philippine-U.S. defense treaty, which has been a bedrock of American influence in the region. While Duterte has said he’ll respect the alliance he’s repeatedly stressed the need for an “independent foreign policy” and questioned America’s willingness to intervene if China were to seize territory in the South China Sea.

‘Game Changer’

“This could be the game changer for the South China Sea situation in general and Sino-U.S. regional competition specifically,” said Zhang Baohui, director of the Center for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. “Duterte’s foreign policy may dramatically shift the geostrategic picture of the region, leaving China in an advantageous position versus the United States.”

One of the biggest benefits for China is the potential for a deal over the South China Sea. Just weeks after Duterte took office in late June, an international arbitration panel ruledthat China’s claims to most of the waterway had no legal basis — a win for the Philippines in a case brought by Duterte’s predecessor.

While Duterte has said he’ll respect the ruling, he’s signaled he’s open to talks with China, the country’s biggest trading partner, and he did not push for the ruling to be mentioned in the communique last week from a summit of Southeast Asian leaders in Laos. Before taking office, he said he’d consider setting aside territorial disagreements to get a Chinese-built railway.

 Joint Effort

In July, Duterte sent former President Fidel Ramos to Hong Kong to explore common ground with China. Ramos later called for a bigger role for the Philippines under China’s plan to link ports and other trading hubs throughout Asia to Europe.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday that China is aware of reports on Duterte’s comments regarding military cooperation, but had no specifics. She said that China “will work with the Philippines to promote and renew normal exchanges and cooperation in different fields.”

“Let’s not be naive about this, there’s no other country that will benefit from our differences with the U.S. and our other allies but China,” said Lauro Baja, a former Foreign Affairs undersecretary who served as the Philippine permanent representative to the United Nations under ex-President Gloria Arroyo. “Whether we like it or not, we’re sending the wrong message to the U.S., China and our other allies with these actions and pronouncements.”

China claims sovereignty over all features that lie within a nine-dash line drawn on a 1940s map enclosing more than 80 percent of the South China Sea. It says that gives it the right to interdict military ships close to its territory — a position the U.S. opposes.

Fu Ying, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s top lawmaking body, this month framed U.S.-China tensions in the South China Sea as a fight over the freedom of navigation for naval warships and other non-commercial vessels within the 200 nautical-mile exclusive economic zones of coastal states.

“The Chinese want the South China Sea to become a Chinese strait, with control of the maritime space and the air space above it,” said Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra. “That is the long-term game, and flipping Duterte over to Beijing’s side is part of the play.”

China’s land reclamation and military buildup in the waters has in recent years pushed some neighbors closer to the U.S. The Obama administration has boosted military cooperation with nations such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, and Japan.

Filipino Members of the group Kalayaan Atin Ito (Freedom This Is Ours) raise their fists next to the Philippines flag as they sail to Scarborough Shoal, June 2016. PHOTO by KALAYAAN ATIN ITO for AFP

‘Very Bad Scenario’

Still, at the summit last week in Laos, a spat with Obama over Duterte’s war on drugs and the thousands of deaths it has caused overshadowed any criticism of China.

“That’s a very bad scenario,” said Hideki Makihara, a senior lawmaker in Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, referring to a potential Philippine strategic alignment with China. In that case, “at least we need Vietnam, Malaysia and other countries surrounding the South China Sea in our group,” he said in an interview this week in Tokyo.

For now, U.S. officials are emphasizing the benefits of defense ties with the Philippines.

“We’ve got a wide range of shared concerns and shared interests, and the United States and the Philippines have been able to work effectively together in a variety of areas to advance our mutual interests,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Sept. 12.

Backlash Risk

A shift toward China may be difficult for Duterte to sustain. If China refuses to make any tangible concessions on the South China Sea, particularly over fishing resources at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, Duterte may face a domestic backlash, according to Richard Javad Heydarian, an assistant political science professor at De La Salle University in Manila.

“This is precisely why security relations with the United States will remain indispensable for the Philippines,” he wrote in an article last week for the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative. Still, the U.S. can no longer expect the same level of strategic deference and diplomatic support. “This is the new normal in Philippine-U.S. relations.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-14/duterte-s-tilt-toward-china-risks-upending-u-s-strategy-in-asia

No real smiles here: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, September 12, 2016. Credit REUTERS

Related:

 (China is taking the Marine Life and Seafood away from the Philippines)


A worker carries a line-caught yellowfin tuna at the General Santos Fish Port, which is known as the “tuna capital of the Philippines.” The South China Sea, through which tuna migrate, produces more fish than almost anywhere else, but it has been severely overfished and is nearing collapse. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

 (New York Times Editorial)


Filipino fishermen aboard the Ninay haul in sardines and scad in national waters near the South China Sea. The territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea have increased competition for dwindling fish stocks of all species.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic


A couple sits outside a home built over the water in Quezon, where most people have family members who work as fishermen. Overfishing has put the livelihoods of many Filipinos at risk.
Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

China Coast Guard — In this photo released by the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters of Japan, a Chinese coastguard vessel sails near the disputed islands in the East China Sea on August 6, 2016. Japan said this ship was watching over more than 200 Chinese fishing boats fishing illegally in Japanese waters. AP

U.S., Vietnam and China — “Love Triangles Never Work”

May 28, 2016
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Peace and Freedom went in search of our “Many Asian Fathers” yesterday — in search for answers about President Obama’s recent trip to Vietnam and Japan and what it may mean for the future of U.S. relations with China, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and other Asian neighbors.
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My wife is Vietnamese and when I went in search of answers yesterday, as I entered one establishment filled with Vietnamese-Americans discussing world events, one man said, “There is the man with Many Vietnamese Fathers.”
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We’ve found that for an American to understand Asia even a little bit, he needs Many Asian Fathers. I listen to “The Old Ones.”
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One Vietnamese man in his nineties sad to me, “A love triangle almost never works. China treats Vietnam as a little brother. Vietnam’s largest trading partner is China. China cannot accept American in a love triangle.”
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Another of my “Many Vietnamese Fathers” said, “Did you notice that no high-level Vietnamese met Obama at the airport? And did you notice that no high-level Vietnamese is smiling in the pictures with Obama?”
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The Vietnamese have a well learned fear of their ancient neighbor, China.
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“The Communist Party of Vietnam, just like the Communist Party of China, has one goal. To remain in power. No human rights, no freedom of the press and freedom of speech is the easiest way to remain in power. Even bloggers like you get punished Young One. If Vietnam embraces human rights the way America does, the Communist Party will fail. Same thing in China. These things take time.”
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“Many Vietnamese love it that Obama came to visit — but they cannot smile. And they question his motives. He knows nothing of Asia. Hillary Clinton knows nothing. John Kerry and John McCain have tried to learn like you. You should bring Obama to lunch with us.”
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Another quickly said, “Obama learns everything from Susan Rice and Ben Rhodes.”
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There guys are very observant.
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We also spent about an hour with Clyde, who is a ninety-three year old former U.S. Marine who landed on Leyte in the Philippines and on Okinawa in World War II.
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Clyde is all alone now. His wife has died, he lives alone in his own house, and his children and grandchildren have deserted him. They were in Orlando, Florida yesterday for Disneyland, he said.
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Clyde has “survivor’s remorse” from his World War II battle experience. It’s a nasty sort of PTSD. He saw hundreds, maybe thousands die. But he survived “as if God wanted me to get home,” he said.
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He wanted to talk about President Obama yesterday.  He said that President Obama has never seemed to understand that he is the President of all Americans in some kind of mystical, timeless way.
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“He is the president of me and my shipmates, just as he is president of some kid that thinks he’s trans-sexua,l” (he struggled with the word — and asked me what it meant).
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When I told him, he said, “A small personal problem. The President should be worried about the future of a strong America. Obama embraces weakness. China loves him.”
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I asked him about Hiroshima.
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He said, “Hiroshima should not be discussed by any American president. America did what it did at Hiroshima to save lives and stop the war. No second guessing. This is part of Obama not understanding anything but weakness.”
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I reminded him that President Obama is fighting against nuclear weapons.
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He said, “Too late. North Korea has nuclear weapons. Iran has nuclear weapons. India. China. Pakistan. Russia. Israel. France. England. Who is Obama kidding?  He is trying to keep nuclear weapons away from who?”
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My final stop was to see my Chinese Elder, who is also a practicing doctor. I’ve seen him write prescriptions for for antibiotics and opioids and rhino horn. “Whatever works,” he says.  Sometimes its all in the mind.”
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After much talk, he said, “Sometimes I think guys like Obama and John Kerry will never understand that they are being played by the Chinese. It’s Sun Tzu.”
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How about rhino horn I asked.
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“Better than Viagra,” he said.
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John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom
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World | Fri May 27, 2016 8:09am EDT
U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang after an arrival ceremony at the presidential palace in Hanoi, Vietnam May 23, 2016.
REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA

At a stroke, the U.S. and Vietnam have complicated the strategic outlook for China over the disputed South China Sea.

As U.S. President Barack Obama marked one of his last trips to Asia by the historic lifting of Washington’s arms embargo on Vietnam, he repeatedly insisted it was not directed at Beijing.

And yet regional military sources and security analysts say China will face short and longer term strategic headaches from the fully normalized relationship between former enemies in Hanoi and Washington.

Operationally, China faces the short-term prospect of Vietnam obtaining U.S.-sourced radars and sensors, surveillance planes and drones to better monitor and target Chinese forces, the analysts say.

In the longer term, the move makes Hanoi a key player in Obama’s strategic pivot to East Asia. U.S. arms manufacturers will compete with Russia for big-ticket weapons sales to Vietnam. The U.S. Navy may get a long-held wish to use Cam Ranh Bay, the best natural harbor in the South China Sea, military sources say.

Then there is the prospect of political cooperation and greater intelligence sharing over China’s assertiveness, according to diplomatic sources, even if Vietnam shuns any formal steps towards a military alliance.

Such moves dovetail with the goals of Vietnam’s military strategists who have told Reuters they want to discreetly raise the costs on China’s rapidly modernizing forces from attacking Vietnam again.

Vietnam understands that a future conflict with their giant neighbor would be vastly more difficult than the bloody land battles on their northern border that rumbled through the 1980s, or the sea battle over the Spratlys in 1988.

RELYING ON DIPLOMACY

Chinese official reaction has so far been muted.

But Beijing is paying close attention to Vietnam’s acquisition of modern weaponry and deployments in the South China Sea, said Ruan Zongze, a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, a think tank linked to the Foreign Ministry.

“It’s not impossible that this will then impact the territorial issue between China and Vietnam,” said Ruan, a former Chinese diplomat.

Zhang Baohui, a mainland security expert at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, said he believed Vietnamese planners knew they could never prevail against the modern Chinese military, so they had to rely on diplomacy to keep stable relations with Beijing.

Zhang said he expected this to continue, despite the Obama visit, saying it was the “cheapest form of defense”.

“Vietnam is working the U.S. into an enhanced deterrence strategy,” he said. “To enhance its relations with China, they have to play the U.S. card,” he said.

CAM RANH BAY

U.S. naval officials say they are keen to gradually increase ship visits, but are aware of Vietnamese concerns over pushing China too hard.

When in March Vietnamese officials announced the opening of a new international port in Cam Ranh to foreign navies, China was one of the first militaries to get a formal invite, according to reports in Vietnam’s military press.

U.S. port calls are currently long-planned formal affairs. But U.S. military officials say a servicing agreement is one long term option to allow U.S. warships to make routine visits to Cam Ranh Bay.

Security analysts say even a small increase in ship visits, for example, would complicate China’s operations in the South China Sea, now centered on dual-use facilities being built on seven artificial islands in the Spratlys archipelago.

China claims 80 percent of the South China Sea as its territory, while Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei also have overlapping claims across one of the world’s most important shipping lanes.

Lifting the embargo not only offers an opportunity for U.S. arms makers in Vietnam but elsewhere in rapidly developing Southeast as well, said a military advisor in Thailand.

“The U.S. sees opportunity and demand opening up in various other countries, such as Laos and Cambodia, which use weapons from Russia and China,” said Panitan Wattanayagorn, an adviser to Thailand’s Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon.

“Their economies are expanding, but they still have old weapons so there is an opportunity.”

(Reporting by Greg Torode and Megha Rajagopalan. Editing by Bill Tarrant.)

Related:

 (Contains links to several related articles)

 (Cyber Security is a Global problem)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi. REUTERS/OLIVIA HARRIS

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At Hiroshima Memorial, Obama Says Nuclear Arms Require ‘Moral Revolution’

The New York Times

HIROSHIMA, Japan — President Obama laid a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial on Friday, telling an audience that included survivors ofAmerica’s atomic bombing in 1945 that technology as devastating as nuclear arms demands a “moral revolution.”

Thousands of Japanese lined the route of the presidential motorcade to the memorial in the hopes of glimpsing Mr. Obama, the first sitting American president to visit the most potent symbol of the dawning of the nuclear age. Many watched the ceremony on their cellphones.

“Seventy-one years ago, on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed,” Mr. Obama said in opening his speech at the memorial.

“Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us,” Mr. Obama said, adding that such technology “requires a moral revolution as well.”

Read the rest:

Hong Kong’s ‘godfather of localism’ Horace Chin set to lose job at Lingnan University

February 24, 2016

Controversial professor known for pro-independence views says his contract, which will expire in August, is unlikely to be renewed

By Danny Mok and Gary Cheung
South China Morning Post

A Lingnan University academic well known for his localist stance is set to lose his job due to possible non-renewal of his employment contract, which will expire in August.

Dr Horace Chin Wan-kan, 54, an assistant professor in the university’s Chinese department, said this was likely as the department had told him the renewal would not be recommended. In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Chin said he had been removing books from his office and was ready to leave the university.

A decision by university president Professor Leonard Cheng Kwok-hon is expected. Chin will be notified about the university’s decision next month.

READ MORE: President of Hong Kong’s Lingnan University warns outspoken colleague to watch his words or ‘bear the consequences’

The academic said on Tuesday that the department’s decision was made under political pressure.

Chin, who has a doctorate in ethnology from the University of Göttingen in Germany, was previously an adviser to former Secretary of Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping.

After leaving that job in 2007, Chin published a book suggesting that Hong Kong should become a city state. The book, which has been credited with inspiring the autonomy movement, is widely seen as having laid the foundations of today’s localist movement. Chin, also known as Chin Wan, is considered by many to be the godfather of localism.

In March last year, Cheng warned Chin to be careful in his words and actions, or bear the consequences. The warning came in a letter written after Cheng received complaints from alumni and members of the public about Chin’s speeches.

READ MORE: Hong Kong ‘localist’ groups seek inspiration from academic’s book

In the letter, Cheng said: “The university safeguards the freedom of academics and of speech, and respects the right to express opinions enjoyed by the staff, but some of your words and behaviour over the past few years contradicted your status as a scholar, and went beyond the bottom line of the limit of speech freedom.”

Without specifying which remarks he was referring to, Cheng also said Chin’s words and conduct had violated the professors’ code of ethics and badly affected the university’s reputation.

Chin, who had also been criticised for his role in the Occupy protests in Mong Kok in 2014, believed Cheng’s remarks were directed at his city state argument and pro-independence stance. His guess was based on letters and materials relating to complaints received by Cheng’s office.

READ MORE: Hong Kong Lingnan University students force cancellation of council meeting

He said he expected his position would be left vacant for a period as it was hard to find a writing instructor for the department.

Chin was last seen publicly on February 20, at a rally for Edward Leung Tin-kei, the candidate for radical localist group Hong Kong Indigenous in the upcoming Legislative Council New Territories East by-election.

A Lingnan University spokesman said on Tuesday that he would not comment on an employment issue concerning an individual staff member due to privacy concerns.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/education-community/article/1916048/hong-kongs-godfather-localism-horace-chin-set

The new front in Hong Kong’s campus war: Critics say reform is vital to preserve academic freedom

November 17, 2015

Critics of how Hong Kong’s universities are ruled say reform is vital to preserve academic freedom

By Cannix Yau and Shirley Zhao
South China Morning Post

As the University of Hong Kong reels from the controversial decision its ruling council took to block the appointment of liberal scholar Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun to a key managerial post, a new and potentially more damaging battle is looming over a tradition that automatically makes the city’s chief executive chancellor of its public universities.

Student unions who argue the system has the potential for abuse and is a threat to academic freedom, are holding plebiscites on the matter.

Last week, students at Lingnan University voted for the abolition of the system which installs the chief executive – at present Leung Chun-ying – as chancellor of all eight public educational institutions in the SAR. The position gives the city’s leader the power to appoint members of university ruling councils.

READ MORE: Suspicions HKU posting was delayed to avoid uproar

Adding fuel to the fire are rumours that “tsar” Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung is to be appointed as University of Hong Kong council chairman in the wake of the controversial appointment of two Beijing loyalists to the council at Lingnan.

Controversial HKU council member, Arthur Li. Photos: Felix Wong

In both cases, student activists and university alumni have accused Leung of political interference through his role as chancellor in both cases.

The dilemma universities face is whether doing away with – or over-hauling – the system might inflame an already febrile political atmosphere on campuses.

In 2012, long before the current controversy, the HKU Convocation formed by university graduates raised concerns about possible political interference in a report on the future of HKU carried out by its task force based on feedback from staff and alumni.

At present, Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying is chancellor of all eight public educational institutions in the SAR, giving him the power to appoint members of university ruling councils. Photo: David Wong

“There is also the bigger issue of the selection and appointment of the council chairman,” it said.

In what now looks like a prophetic passage, the report noted.

“This always leads to the suspicion and risk that in future the chief executive may use the power to select and appoint a new council chairman who is in his favour and under his political influence.”

READ MORE: CY Leung unmoved by university protests: reaffirms chief executive’s ‘power and responsibility’ to appoint chancellors, councils

The report pointed out how accountability issues relating to governance and management might undermine university competiveness. “Many commentators have pointed out that the complacency of HKU as a ‘100-year-old shop’ has blurred the awareness that there are many fundamental weaknesses and problems in the governance and management of the university hidden the facade of glory,” it noted.

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Former law dean, Johannes Chan. Photos: Sam Tsang

Professor Cheng Kai-ming, a former pro-vice-chancellor of HKU, argues that the most fundamental issue is not the chief executive being chancellor of the universities, but how the chancellor exercises his or her power.

He believes if the city’s leader does not become chancellor, things will be more complicated because there will be more political tussles among different parties vying for the post.

Cheng says if the council is empowered to appoint a chancellor, as happens in Britain, there questions will remain such as how to choose council members in the first place to prevent them from appointing candidates for political reasons.

“No matter how you change [the council], if the government wants to interfere, it can,” says Cheng, urging students and staff to think hard about how they want to reform the council structure instead of simply calling for a reform.

But he agrees that the chief executive should not have the power to appoint council members, so as to allow more freedom for the council to make decisions.

READ MORE: Four members appointed to HKU council – but no word yet on crowning of ‘Tsar’ Arthur Li as chairman

Professor Joshua Mok Ka-ho, vice-president of Lingnan University, says whether the role of chancellor and the council’s formation need to be reformed depends on the governance needs of each university and that people should not generalise what happens on campus.

Joshua Mok, Lingnan University.

“I appreciate students’ concerns about the academic freedom and institutional autonomy on campus, which are the two cornerstones of the success of local universities,” he says, adding that any review of a long-standing tradition is only justified when serious problems crop up.

But he cautions against irrational action based on uninformed speculation.

“When some people cast doubt on whether both rights have been infringed, we need to take the matter seriously and see whether there is solid evidence to support the claim,” he says.

“We cannot, based on some expressions of views or conversations, hastily conclude that there must be some kind of interference. Nor should we whimsically push for drastic reform only because we are unhappy with a certain decision or outcome of an event.”

But he agrees that universities should address flaws in the system if such concerns are proved to be justified.

Perhaps Hong Kong should draw on the experience of the United States, which are largely governed by boards similar to university councils here, with state governors empowered to appoint board members.

California State University chancellor is appointed by a board whose members are mostly appointed by the state governor.

Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University in Indiana and former Indiana state governor, says Hong Kong’s situation is “unique” and should not be compared to US universities.

Mitchell E Daniels, President of Purdue University. Photo: David Wong

He says in most cases, US public university boards consist mainly of members from outside the universities, in order to form independent judgments in the long-term interests of the university.

With the governor of the state appointing six out of 10 members, Daniels says the system has worked well.

He cannot remember an occasion in which the search committee’s suggestions were rejected by the board – as happened at with Chan at HKU.

READ MORE: HKU staff, teachers and students demand explanation why Johannes Chan was rejected for managerial post

“At least in our situation the board has to be responsible for not just the Purdue of today but the Purdue in five and 10 and 50 years from now. Most students, quite naturally, are thinking about issues right now. But the main assignment of the board is to think about the long term.”

The approach taken by US state universities may bolster the argument that the chief executive has responsibilities to oversee operations of the city’s public universities because they are funded with public money.

Mok, however, rejects such a claim, arguing that the University Grants Committee (UGC) already serves this function.

“The issue of whether the chief executive should take the role as a university’s chancellor has nothing to do with overseeing public universities.

Over 1500 Staff and students of the University of Hong Kong and various concern group join protest against the university’s governing council at the HKU in Pok Fu Lam in October. Photo: Felix Wong

“Local universities are subject to the scrutiny of the UGC for funding approval as well as performance assessment. The UGC has set out different benchmarks to assess the quality of teaching, research and academics at each university,” he says.

Even if there was wide consensus among university stakeholders to remove the chief executive as chancellor, the question is how? It would almost certainly trigger yet more political in-fighting on campuses.

Ho Ka-yin, HKU’s student union vice-president, is adamant that the most important thing is to end the tradition of having the chief executive as chancellor.

“The chancellor can be appointed by the council after consulting students and other stakeholders,” she says.

“The biggest problem now is that the chancellor does not need to be accountable to students and staff.”

In most British universities, the chancellor is appointed by the council for a set term, but at Oxford and Cambridge the chancellors are elected in a formal ballot. Other selection methods overseas include an election by university students and staff, nominations by governing bodies or appointments in a multiplicity of ways.

Dr William Cheung Sing-wai, HKU Academic Staff Association chairman, sides with the students.

Chairman of the Academic Staff Association, William Cheung Sing-wai (left), Convenor of the HKU Alumni Concern Group Legislator, Ip Kin-yuen (centre) and President of the HKU Students’ Union, Billy Fung Jing-en (right) releases a joint statement on the appointment of a new provost in Wan Chai. Photo: Felix wong

“If the chief executive has strong political preferences, the whole university will be politicised,” he says. “Universities should not have politics seeping into them.”

Cheung says the chancellor could be sought globally from prominent and reputable figures, and candidates should be accepted and respected by students and staff.

Mok says he prefers a council composed of different stakeholders like business leaders and professionals who can help with the universities’ lobbying, fundraising and provision of internships and job opportunities.

“A popular vote may deter high-calibre business leaders or professionals from coming forward for election. And scholars may not really know how to lead their university in their developments,” he argues.

‘I am highly concerned with the quality of teaching, academic development and research. These areas are crucial to a university’s future. I don’t know if a popular vote can really attract capable leaders who know how to promote the status of a university in these areas.”

Ho counters that voices from outside and inside university should be balanced, instead of letting outsiders have the most say in the council.

University of Hong Kong students and staff staged a silent protest march in defence of autonomy on the HKU Campus in Pok Fu Lam. Photo: Sam Tsang

On the reform of the council, the Convocation report raised an unanswered question as to whom the council chairman should be accountable, as it found that “the HKU council chairman is answerable to no one in the current state”.

The Convocation task force’s convenor, Andrew Fung Ho-keung, argues the council chairman should not be accountable to the university chancellor.

“This will compromise the academic autonomy and freedom of the university,” he says. “If the council chairman were to report to the chief executive on university affairs, it would open up avenues of administrative intervention.”

One way to address the council’s accountability, the report suggests, is to require the council chairman to make an annual council report to the university’s court, an advisory body comprising university and lay members that represent the wider interests of the community.

The court has the power to make, repeal and amend university statutes.

Regardless of which side people take, Fung says an independent study that draws on the best practices of international universities and how they safeguard academicfreedom and autonomy.

“There is really a need to review the existing system in order to meet the changing environment of the 21st century, which requires greater accountability, effectiveness and transparency in leading local universities in gaining global competitiveness,” he says.

Hong Kong has to weigh up the options carefully and ensure it isn’t jumping out of the campus frying pan into a much more destructive fire.

University of Hong Kong alumni vow action to stop ex-minister Arthur Li taking over as chairman of ruling council

October 25, 2015

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Controversial figure has a poor track record in protecting university autonomy, says pan-democrat who is leading concern group

By Ng Kang-chung
South China Morning Post

HKU alumni ramp up the pressure against Professor Arthur Li in a protest at the campus in Pok Fu Lam. Photo: SCMP Pictures


University of Hong Kong alumni warn they will “take whatever action needed” to stop Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung becoming head of its governing body.

The controversial Li, an executive councillor and former education minister, was appointed to the HKU council in March and it is rumoured that he will take over as chairman when Dr Leong Che-hung’s term expires on November 6.

The HKU Alumni Concern Group, headed by pan-democrat lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen, claims Li has a bad track record for respecting the autonomy of universities.

A poll released on Sunday by the Professional Teachers Union showed that almost three-quarters of its 670 tertiary sector members opposed Li’s appointment.

Nicknamed “King Arthur” for his perceived high-handed manner, Li is no stranger to controversy. More than a decade ago he pressed for a merger between Chinese University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and later between Chinese University and the Hong Kong Institute of Education.

His critical remarks about student activists during last year’s Occupy protests, and against HKU lecturers, also did him no favours in winning friends.

Ip, a former lecturer at the institute, said yesterday: “The university council chairman should be someone who is fair, impartial, and able to display a determination to protect university autonomy and academic freedom. He must also have a strong sense of belonging to the university and has to be accepted and supported by staff and students.

“We find Professor Li possesses none of these qualities.”

A poll of 152 members of the HKU Academic Staff Association showed 87 per cent did not believe it would be good for the university if Li was made chairman.

“We understand that the government may still go ahead with Professor Li’s appointment despite our opposition,” said Ip. “But we would like to tell the government that if it does so, it will be against the will of the public, the university staff and students.”

Ip accused the Leung Chun-ying administration of trying to tighten its grip over the tertiary education sector, citing the recent appointment of pro-government figures to the council of Lingnan University.

He also questioned if the appointment of Li would give the Li family too much influence in the university, where his brother, banker David Li Kwok-po, is already pro-chancellor.

Dissatisfaction continues to fester at universities, triggered by HKU council’s rejection of pan-democrat-friendly scholar Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun for a key managerial post last month. The episode led to debate over whether the chief executive should continue to serve as chancellor of all universities, a role that gives him the power to appoint council members and chairmen.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as HKU alumni vow action to stop ‘King Arthur’
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http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/education-community/article/1872028/university-hong-kong-alumni-vow-action-stop-ex

Chinese University of Hong Kong council meeting halted as students demand to take part in discussions on key appointment

October 20, 2015

President Joseph Sung plays down fears of a pro-establishment figure taking over ruling body

Union leader Wong Ching-fung confronts Joseph Sung (centre) and Lee Chien.Photo by Dickson Lee, SCMP

By Shirley Zhou and Lai Ying-kit
South China Morning Post

Chinese University’s governing council halted discussions on the appointment of a new chairman yesterday and invited a student to “unofficially” attend the meeting after protesters outside demanded wider representation.

It followed concerns of political interference at the University of Hong Kong after its council rejected the appointment of a liberal scholar to a key managerial position last month, and a protest by Lingnan University students on Monday against the appointment of two pro-establishment figures to its council.

Chinese University is the only publicly-funded institute of higher education whose council does not have student representation.

Its president, Professor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu, said a committee set up in June to nominate a chairman had not yet selected any candidates.

He said vice-chairman Lee Chien would serve as acting chairman after current chairman Vincent Cheng Hoi-chuen’s term ends on Friday.

He said there was no deadline for the appointment but the council hoped a new chairman could be appointed as soon as possible. Sung also promised that in the next meeting members would discuss including students in the council and scrapping the system whereby the chief executive is chancellor.

Student union president Wong Ching-fung, who was invited into the meeting, said he was disappointed that the council only asked him to voice his opinions unofficially.

“We the students are obviously not respected,” he said. “We hope in the following meetings, we can be invited to join discussions related to the chairman’s appointment and reform of the council’s structure.”

There have been rumours that a pro-establishment figure, Norman Leung Nai-pang, might be appointed council chairman, although Leung, executive chairman of TVB, has denied this.

Anthony Neoh, chief adviser to the China Securities Regulatory Commission, is also said to be a candidate.

The council has 58 members and before the meeting students handed petition letters to around 20 of them. Leung, one of the members, took exception to being called a “Leung fan” – a reference to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying – by students.

“I’m absolutely not a Leung fan,” he retorted, saying everyone at Chinese University should support academic freedom.

Responding to recent debate on the role of the chief executive in government-funded universities, particularly in the default role as chancellor, Leung Chun-ying stressed yesterday that Hong Kong’s law gave him power to appoint council chairmen and members. He said the government’s responsibilities included monitoring the performance of universities.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Chinese U council meeting halted as students protest

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/education-community/article/1870175/chinese-university-hong-kong-council-meeting

University President In China Urges Chinese, Hong Kong College Students To Seek Fortunes Abroad

May 19, 2015

Academic believes young people are too focused on local issues and must seize opportunities, not chase after unattainable political goals

By Shirley Zhao
South China Morning Post

Q: How can our universities help students start a career after they graduate?

A: By introducing them to foreign cultures, particularly through international exchanges

The current political stalemate is taking up young people’s energy and attention and preventing them from seizing their future, says a leading academic.

The mood in the city is perhaps the most divided it has ever been. On one side is the government rallying people to accept Beijing’s electoral-reform package for the selection of the chief executive. On the other are pan-democrats vowing to vote against it as they consider the proposal fake democracy.

But Professor Leonard Cheng Kwok-hon, president of Lingnan University and a former adviser to Leung Chung-ying’s chief-executive election campaign, believes it is unrealistic to expect Beijing to grant full democracy.

“I agree that Hong Kong should be further democratised,” Cheng says.

“But young people need to ask if their demand is possible. Beijing has said that public nomination [of candidates for chief executive] is very obviously against the Basic Law. Can they force Beijing to accept public nomination? Very simple – it’s impossible.

“To say it in the worst way, if the mainland can rule Xinjiang and Tibet, it can rule Hong Kong, too. The question is how you want it to rule Hong Kong.”

Cheng accepts that young people genuinely care about the city’s future, and that this is why the 79-day Occupy protests had the momentum they did. But he wonders if the protesters’ ambitions were realistic.

“If Hong Kong could decide its own political system completely based on the view of the majority, it wouldn’t be under the ‘one country, two systems’ policy,” he says. “But this is not possible. So we can only reach as high a level of democracy as we can under the ‘one country, two systems’ policy.”

Cheng admits that many social problems young people are facing need to be dealt with by a government that has a public mandate.

But he says that even full democracy might not solve all the problems, such as ever-increasing property prices.

He believes these problems have been making young people more disenchanted and stressed. Their lack of hope for the future has fed into a mood that also discourages innovation and local start-ups, thus harming the city’s future competitiveness, he says.

But Cheng does not lay the blame at the feet of young people.

What Hong Kong really needs, he says, is strong leadership and government officials capable of introducing sensible policies.

If affordable venues are available, Hong Kong can provide an ideal environment for businesses to set up headquarters while basing their manufacturing operations on the mainland, Cheng says.

As an example, he cites Dajiang Innovation, a Shenzhen-based drone maker that is said to supply its products to nearly half of the 129 US companies that received regulatory approval to use unmanned aircraft. The company estimates that it has about 70 per cent of the commercial market worldwide. Dajiang was co-founded by Frank Wang Tao, a mainland-born graduate of Hong Kong’s University of Science and Technology. Cheng says Wang went back to Shenzhen to start the company instead of doing it here because the Shenzhen government was willing to provide land and other forms of support for him.

But the Hong Kong government, though it wants the city to excel in many areas, tends to be wishy-washy and does not have strong determination to invest heavily in any area to make it blossom, Cheng says.

“We’ve put HK$5 billion in developing innovation and technology. Can HK$5 billion solve the problem of economic transformation? It’s too little,” he says.

“We have too many things we want to do but we haven’t really committed ourselves to any.”

The origin of this lack of commitment, Cheng believes, dates back to the colonial era, when officials did not have a tradition of pushing forward their policies. Many officials also do not specialise in the areas they are in charge of, he says.

“On the one hand, they are not familiar with their areas, on the other hand they don’t have a strong commitment,” Cheng argues. “They don’t want to stick their necks out. They think if they do nothing they won’t make mistakes. But wherever you apply this theory, the area will be dead.”

The weak leadership is further worsened by the absence of a system in which leaders are backed by political parties.

Parties would train leaders to take the helm of political leadership, including offering candidates for chief executive. The connection between voters and leaders would be stronger, with accountability and a sense of responsibility on the part of leaders.

While he believes Hong Kong should adopt a party system in selecting future chief executives, he doubts if Beijing would allow it.

A strong government could do much to help the people, including managing property prices better, he says.

“Some overseas economists say: ‘You, Hong Kong, have no industrial policy except one,’ and that’s the real-estate development industry, which the government is trying to protect.

“In some other places, the government wouldn’t care if property developers jumped off a building, but here it’s different. Of course, when the property market is slumping badly, the government should reduce supply appropriately. But the purpose should not be only to protect developers and those who have bought properties.”

Cheng says he understands the pressures young people face these days, as salaries for fresh graduates have not increased since the handover, and in fact have declined in real terms after accounting for inflation. Meanwhile, housing has become more unaffordable.

While he is sympathetic, he also urges young people to improve themselves to find more opportunities. They tend to lack communication skills, creativity and an international perspective, he says.

At public gatherings, they dare not voice their opinions or ask questions, Cheng observes. They are also too focused on local issues and tend to ignore what is happening in the outside world. He recalls a local banker once telling him that Hong Kong graduates were the least willing to work overseas, compared to young people from India and Singapore.

Hong Kong’s education system and cultural traditions have not been able to cultivate creative minds either, Cheng adds.

What about the students who took part in the Occupy protests? Cheng agrees that the movement’s leaders and participants have shown independent thinking, communication skills, leadership and creativity, but they are a distinct minority, he says.

Local universities ought to provide students with more opportunities for international exchanges so they can understand other cultures, he adds. At Lingnan University, six in 10 students take part in exchange programmes outside Hong Kong.

“It’s very simple. In the future, there will be limited work opportunities in Hong Kong and many jobs will be outside Hong Kong, so you have to have this ability to excel outside Hong Kong.”

While Cheng now talks confidently about Lingnan, his appointment was a rocky episode in his career. When he was named president in 2013, the student union led protests against his appointment because Cheng is a former adviser to Leung and was not seen as politically neutral. He managed to calm the mood after pledging to safeguard academic freedom.

But Cheng also has something to say to the student unions. He believes that the tradition of incumbent student union leaders seeking advice from former leaders, commonly referred to as “old ghosts” by students, leads to old leaders controlling current student affairs.

This “old ghosts” culture will result in student movements that are stuck in old ways of thinking, critics like Cheng fear. As he points out: “This is very anti-democracy.

“If you are no longer in the position, you should not interfere in the affairs of that position.”

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/education-community/article/1802602/lingnan-university-chief-says-young-people-must

Hong Kong May Face Renewed Pro-Democracy ‘Occupy’ Protests — “The Police stand in readiness” Chinese officials say

March 25, 2015

HONG KONG Wed Mar 25, 2015 2:26am EDT

(Reuters) – Hong Kong’s leader said on Wednesday the city was prepared for a fresh flareup of pro-democracy street protests, while issuing a call to arms against opposition democratic lawmakers who have disrupted government policy-making in the legislature.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s comments to a high-profile investment conference just days before the internationally renowned Hong Kong Rugby Sevens tournament, comes as a holdout group of protesters steadily build up their presence outside the city’s government headquarters.

“Will ‘Occupy’ resurrect itself?,” Leung asked investors and bankers at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference. “The Hong Kong government as always maintains its preparedness but I can say that the public, if ‘Occupy’ happens again, will not be sympathetic.”

Leung also urged voters to expel democratic lawmakers in city-wide legislative elections next year, highlighting the bitter political divisions that have emerged in the Asian financial hub after last year’s pro-democracy protests, when activists seized and blockaded major roads for 79 days.

Some activists have pledged to relaunch a second wave of civil disobedience protests this summer when the administration presents a proposal for how the next chief executive will be elected that is widely expected to mirror an earlier one by Beijing.

China wants candidates to be pre-screened by a small committee stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists, a model decried as fake “Chinese-style” democracy by the street activists.

Hong Kong police manhandle a democracy protester at the height of last year’s civil disobedience protests.

China promised Hong Kong “universal suffrage” and wide-ranging freedoms under a so-called “one-country, two systems” model, when the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.

In an attempt to pressure the government over the proposal, democratic lawmakers have stalled funding for infrastructure projects and things like a new innovation and technology bureau.

“For those of you who are registered voters, vote them out next year … Go to the polling stations and vote them out,” Leung warned during the investor conference.

Over the past few week, activists have begun expanding their camp outside government headquarters, which had been the main site for the ‘Occupy’ movement before it was largely cleared away in December.

A “public library” for students has now been set up on a pavement with books, desks and chairs laid out in neat rows drawing growing crowds of students daily. More tents and protest art have also sprung up in the vicinity in recent weeks.

Some observers expect more young activists to re-join the cause during the summer vacation.

“It will grow bigger,” said Simon Wong, a 71-year-old organizer of the library and study room.

(Editing by James Pomfret; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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