Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that it "breaks her heart" to see an “unhealthy trend” in recent years where talk of Hong Kong independence has entered university campuses.
She said she condemns university student leaders who took advantage of their capacity to spread what she called the “absurd” message of Hong Kong independence, when they gave speeches at universities’ inauguration ceremonies as the new academic year begins.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the Executive Council’s weekly meeting, Lam said what the student leaders did was extremely regrettable.
She reiterated that the suggestion of self-determination or severing Hong Kong from China is in breach of One Country, Two Systems and the Basic Law, and will undermine the SAR’s prosperity and stability.
She added those speeches were "unfair" to other students who support One Country, Two Systems.
Lam said in recent years, she had often heard negative views about local university students when she received visitors to the SAR or when she went to the mainland. But she said that, as far as she knew, only a very small number of students hold such opinions on independence.
Lam also said this has put the universities and the students in a confrontational position. She noted that vice-chancellors are under stress and don’t know what to do, as they care about their students and don’t want to be too critical of them.
Lam called for universities and other students to speak up if they see “anything unreasonable or illegal” going on. She added that the SAR government will continue to deal with any breaches of the Basic Law in accordance with the law.
Lam’s comments come a day after the education secretary, Kevin Yeung, and Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung, warned against raising the issue on campuses and in schools
But the University of Hong Kong's Student Union president, David Wong, said the views of government officials won't affect their decision.
“I think what the government said should not be what we should be considering when we’re talking about Hong Kong independence,” he said.
“I think whether or not we should discuss Hong Kong independence in campus should depend on whether students or teaching staff or anybody in the university wants to talk about it. So I would not say the government stance will not affect our discussion on Hong Kong independence,” he said.
Last updated: 2018-09-04 HKT 13:09