As of October 27, Rowena He is no longer an associate professor of history at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). she was “Dismissed with immediate effect” because the Hong Kong immigration authorities refused to extend his visa, reports that Financial Times.
“The employment of non-permanent residents requires the possession of a valid visa,” The university justified itself. As for her, Rowena He, a Canadian citizen and author of a book about the Chinese army’s brutal suppression of demonstrations in 1989 of students Tiananmen Square democracy advocate believes this decision is symbolic of that “the deterioration of intellectual freedom in Hong Kong”.
“People warned me from the beginning that I shouldn’t work on Tiananmen because I would probably pay dearly for it. The award today marks the end of my university life in Hong Kong.” adds Rowena He. The suppression of the Tiananmen protests is “One of the most sensitive political issues in China, and the authorities are trying to suppress any discussion of it on the mainland and increasingly in Hong Kong.” underlines this Financial Times.
“No real surprise”
Last February the Wen Wei Po, a newspaper subsidized by Beijing, had published an article blaming the Canadian academic “Defamation” the Chinese government. Three months later his book entitled Tiananmen Exiles: Voices of the Struggle for Democracy in China (“Exiles from Tian’anmen: Voices of China’s Struggle for Democracy”) has been removed from Hong Kong public libraries.
“Given the determination of the central government [de Pékin] and Hong Kong to erase the memory of it [répression] “This decision is no real surprise to Tiananmen,” confirms John Burns, honorary professor at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong in the South China morning post. Back in February 2022, Ryan Thoreson, an American academic who worked for both the NGO Human Rights Watch and the University of Hong Kong, was denied a visa.
Hong Kong played a crucial role in the escape of many student leaders after the events in China in 1989. remember AlJazeera. The city was for years “the only place on Chinese soil that commemorates the army’s repression of peaceful demonstrators.” But since Beijing passed the National Security Law in 2020, everything has changed. “The monuments commemorating Tiananmen have disappeared. This is particularly the case with the Pillar of Shame, a sculpture installed on the University of Hong Kong campus.”
Rowena He’s dismissal comes as Hong Kong authorities have just announced new measures to recruit foreign professionals. In particular, the city plans to offer two-year visas “Best global talent” and extension of the work permit after completion of studies for international students, indicates that Times Higher Education.
But on the academic side, we doubt whether this new plan is really capable of counteracting brain drain. “I wonder whether the Hong Kong government is fooling itself or whether these measures are just a facade to give the impression that everything is being done to attract talent to Hong Kong.” comments Carsten Holz, Professor of Economics at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).
Between 2020 and 2022, almost half of the teachers in the social sciences department at his university left, explains Carsten Holz. Some took early retirement, others applied for a pension“other employment opportunities” especially those who have worked on issues “which could have jeopardized their safety and well-being in Hong Kong.”
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