By: Marvin

Hong Kong's universities reopened in September to a small on-campus fracas that soon ignited into a virulent controversy about the future of most basic freedom in the territory.

It started when a student from mainland China at Chinese University of Hong Kong tore down posters calling for the city's independence-

From the so-called Democracy Wall, a space for free expression under the management of a student union.

The university's president, previously thought to be liberal-leaning, asked for the signs removal, suggesting that the very notion of independence was illegal under Hong Kong's mini-constitution  known as the Basic law.

Yet, Article 27 of the Basic Law stipulates among other things, that ''Hong Kong resident shall have  freedom of speech, of the press and of publication.''

Students union on other campuses objected, and more posters went up. Leonard Cheng, the president of  the liberal arts Lingnan University, said-

That  independence was an appropriate topic of academic discussion -but also that 'we will absolutely disallow advocacy on Hong Kong independence.''

The Chinese-owned newspaper Wen Hui Pao then criticized Mr. Cheng, calling him irresponsible and an appeaser, and urged local universities to ban talk of independence.

The next day, 10 universities issued a joint statement saying:

'' We treasure freedom of expression, but we condemn its recent abuses.'' adding that an independence  ''contravenes the basic law''.

So is Free Speech imperiled in Hong Kong?


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