Two Hong Kong universities will ban outsiders on Monday under heightened security after a week of violent clashes on city campuses occupied by anti-government protesters.
The new arrangements, already adopted by the University of Hong Kong and with details being finalised by Baptist University, were announced on Sunday as Polytechnic University, having been taken over by radicals, was turned into a war zone and engulfed in marathon pitched battles between protesters and police.
Days before that, the hilly Sha Tin campus of Chinese University was turned into a fortress stocked with petrol bombs and bows and arrows, after it was occupied by what the institution described as “non-students”.
In a notice issued on Sunday by acting executive vice-president Professor Richard Wong Yue-chim, HKU advised staff with offices on the main and Centennial campuses to work from home if possible.
We would consider a closed campus for [Baptist University] students and staff only by tightening control at entry points to our campus
Baptist University president Professor Roland Chin
“To better protect student and staff safety, effective immediately, colleagues and students should carry their valid staff or student cards at all times while on university premises. There will be [ID] check at entrance and exit points to the campus and at individual buildings,” the notice read. The rules would apply to all of its campuses.
A spokesman added that “outsider visitors” or “non-students or non-staff” would not be allowed entry.
The Pok Fu Lam university was the scene of relatively minor clashes over the weekend as masked radicals threw petrol bombs from a footbridge at local residents and volunteers who went there to clear the roads.
Baptist University bosses were considering similar “student-and-staff-only” measures, according to a notice issued by its president Professor Roland Chin.
Chin said that “the disruptions to our Kowloon Tong main campus by protesters had ended and the surrounding roadblocks cleared. The campus is now quiet and peaceful.”
Chin’s message did not mention the participation of People’s Liberation Army soldiers, local residents, firefighters and police officers on Saturday in helping clear up roadblocks, bricks and barbed wire left on the roads by protesters.
The president said the campus clean-up was still under way and could take “a few more days” and asked students and staff not to go to the site on Monday.
“As suggested by some students and colleagues, we would further step up security on campus,” he said.
“We would consider a closed campus for [Baptist University] students and staff only by tightening control at entry points to our campus. Further details would be announced later.”
Earlier on Sunday, the authorities sealed the No 2 Bridge next to Chinese University, to ensure that the Tolo Highway remained clear. The road, which links the New Territories with Kowloon, had been blocked for days after protesters took over the campus, setting up barricades and throwing debris onto it from the bridge to block traffic.
By Sunday night, the highway was open to traffic again.
Chinese University had announced the closure of all offices on campus from Monday to Wednesday.
Also in Kowloon Tong, nearly 100 people went to clear Cornwall Street next to the City University campus by removing bricks, barricades and boxes of leftover petrol bombs. The street had been cut off since last Tuesday after intense clashes between radicals and police.
Among those helping clean up the street was Paul Siu, a neighbourhood resident and teacher at the Baptist Oasis Kindergarten, next to the university. “We’ve been closed for three days,” he says. “We just want the kids to go to school again.”
Others came from further away to help clean up the streets.
One helper was disparaging of the protesters’ tactics. Fung Po-yee, who works in the retail industry, said: “You can’t say you want freedom, but do what you’re doing, which is ruining the lives of Hongkongers.”
Meanwhile, the Education Bureau announced on Sunday that classes at kindergartens and primary, secondary and special schools would remain suspended on Monday, for safety reasons.
In a statement, the bureau said: “Although the roads and public transport services in the territory have gradually resumed, there are still uncertain factors currently. Also, [November 18] is the first working day after the weekend.”
The bureau said schools should keep their premises open and parents could send their children to school if needed.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Is ban on glass bottle recycling and collection points part of Hong Kong government’s plan to deprive protesters of materials for petrol bombs?
- Hong Kong protests: all schools to remain closed on Monday as city braces for more traffic disruption, while tear gas is fired near Polytechnic University
- Hong Kong protests: residents turn out in force to clear roads near university campuses after five days of traffic mayhem
This article Amid Hong Kong protests, universities shut campuses to outsiders first appeared on South China Morning Post