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Statement on Hong Kong Universities

By Kelly Hand

In November, the AAUP issued a statement on the situation at Hong Kong universities after police attempted to storm the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, using tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons against students, journalists, and medical volunteers. Three other universities canceled on-campus classes for the remainder of the semester, and American universities evacuated students in Hong Kong study-abroad programs.

Although the AAUP takes no position on the status of Hong Kong, these events raised serious concerns about university autonomy, academic freedom, and student free expression. The clashes came in the context of intensifying threats to academic freedom throughout China and amid concerns about Chinese pressure on US programs and scholarship related to China.

In the statement, the AAUP joined Scholars at Risk in calling on “all parties, especially government and university authorities, to take immediate steps to de-escalate violence and ensure the safety and well-being of all persons connected with the demonstrations.” It also urged US higher education institutions with programs in China and Hong Kong to ensure the protection of academic freedom for faculty members and students.

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