Trolls target Chinese University professor over Hong Kong protest posts

Phoebe Zhang

A prominent former journalist in mainland China now teaching in Hong Kong said he had been attacked by mainland trolls and accused of supporting independence for the city after sharing posts about Hong Kong’s unrest.

In a WeChat post on Monday, Fang Kecheng, professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a former journalist with the Guangzhou-based liberal newspaper Southern Weekly, said he had received thousands of abusive messages across social media platforms over the posts.

“Professor Fang, are you still alive? Have you not burned to death yet?” he quoted one such message as saying.

Chinese law professor falls foul of online backlash over posts defending Hong Kong protesters

Fang started working at the university in August and shared media reports and Facebook comments written by his colleagues describing confrontations between protesters and police.

Some internet users on the mainland accused him of supporting the protesters and questioned his credentials as a journalist.

The attacks became so intense that he had to block some users and restrict comments on his Twitter-like Weibo account, he said.

In his post, Fang said he did not support Hong Kong independence, and condemned the violence of the past few months.

But he also said there needed to be a detailed understanding of why the conflict arose.

“Hatred and exclusion are never ways to solve a problem. Hongkongers and mainlanders are all Chinese. I’m more willing to think about how to help them understand each other more,” he wrote.

“We can only observe, listen, communicate, understand, think rationally, refuse violence, refuse hatred, so we can rebuild our shared beautiful home.”

Fang did not respond to requests for comment.

Voices in support of the police and authorities have dominated discussion online on the mainland, while state media outlets have repeatedly called for harsher measures to crack down on the unrest.

Public intellectuals including lawyer Chen Qiushi have also faced action from the authorities after visiting Hong Kong to observe the protests, such as detention and being forced to delete social media accounts.

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