Hong Kong university suspends Chinese teaching assistant who threatened to fail student protesters

Consequences for public statements.

Emily Lo| June 20, 01:26 AM

Hongkongers have been protesting against a proposed extradition law with possibly some two million people taking part on June 16.

But one teaching assistant in Hong Kong hailing from mainland China did not express his support.

Your political stance may affect your grades

Instead, he went the other way and threatened his students with possible repercussions if they took part in the protests.

The comment was allegedly made by a Liu Wenbin, a teaching assistant and Masters of Philosophy student at the Department of History at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

A screenshot showing his comment about student protesters drew attention:

Image via 南洲/LIHKG

According to the original post on LIHKG, a Reddit-like online forum in Hong Kong, Liu shared his comment on WeChat.

Translated, it said:

"You all undergraduate students can go ahead and protest in Central and Wanchai, as well as criticising mainlanders.

But don't come to me and beg me for a pass in your exams next semester."

Hong Kong netizens are angry

The original post has received more than 4,800 upvotes, and was later reposted on CUHK Secrets, a Facebook page where people can make anonymous comments related to the CUHK.

It received 2,200 "angry" reactions.

Here are some comments on the Facebook post:

Image via CUHK Secrets/Facebook

"Out of the four main requests made by protesters, which one was targeting at and criticising mainlanders? #seethedoctorifyouresick"

Image via CUHK Secrets/Facebook

"Push until Liu Wenbin pok gai"

For the uninitiated, "push" is a Canto slang for upvoting, whereas pok gai is a Cantonese swear word that means "falling down on the street"

Image via CUHK Secrets/Facebook

"Mainland students and Chinese people lose face because of you! #ifyoudontlikehongkongyoucangobacktomainland #qualityofmostofthemainlandstudentsishigh"

School's response: we will investigate this matter

The Department of History at CUHK responded on the same day.

Interestingly, it was also the first announcement made in Chinese in six years.

Here's what they said:

  1. Our department has always been upholding academic autonomy, independence and professionalism.
  2. Assessments are made based on the requirements and regulations of the programme, without considering any non-academic factors. We also strongly oppose our teaching staff to threaten students using their authority.
  3. All assessments are made by the teaching staff, rather than teaching assistants. The results will also be reviewed our department’s examination committee. Students have the rights to appeal to the school if they are dissatisfied with the outcome. Our school has corresponding systems and procedures for that.
  4. Our department will have a meeting with Liu Wenbin to further investigate the matter and give penalty if necessary. Our department has decided that student will not be assisting our teaching staff in the coming academic year for now.
  5. We urge our teaching staff and students to uphold academic autonomy and independence.

TLDR: they will investigate the issue, and Liu will not be teaching next year.

Both local politics and grades are equally important to some young Hongkongers, as you can see from this photo of students studying during the recent protests:

Top image from CUHK's website.