Citing Safety Concerns, Hong Kong Student Union Dissolves After 50 Years in Operation

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HONG KONG, CHINA - Nov. 23: Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers train inside a barrack next to the campus of The Hong Kong Poytechnic University on November 23, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. (Image: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

The student union at the Chinese University of Hong Kong has voted to dissolve after 50-years in operation citing increased pressure by authorities and concerns for members safety, the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) has reported. 

In a statement published on Oct. 7 the now defunct union said, “For 50 years CUSU existed as an independent student organization whose representatives were elected through a democratic process. It is a matter of profound regret that CUSU is now history.”

The decision to disband the union, which was founded in 1971, was made at a general meeting on Sept. 10 where all student representatives resigned citing safety concerns.

The decision came after university management instructed the union to register for the new academic year with government agencies. The union said that it had difficulties reconciling professional legal advice it had received and the demands by university management. 

“We are now torn between following the legal advice or complying with the university administration’s demand,” the unions’ statement read.

The university had formally severed ties with the union 8-months ago. 

On Thursday, as they left the Legislative Council chamber, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung and Secretary for Security Chris Tang ignored questions concerning the union’s dissolution. 

The dissolution of CUSU is the latest in a string of blows to the pro-democracy student movement in Hong Kong.

In Dec. 2020 national security police arrested eight Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) students and alumni after they staged a peaceful pro-democracy rally on campus.

Four former student leaders at the University of Hong Kong (UHK), who expressed sympathy for a police attacker who committed suicide, were arrested and charged with “advocating terrorism.”

During the last week of Sept. at Lingnan University, two adjunct professors with pro-democracy affiliations were terminated. 

The union’s dissolution is but the latest of dozens of civil society groups that have disbanded following the implementation of the Beijing-imposed national security law in June 2020.