The Communist Party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily has chided Hong Kong universities for being more and more “politicised” following reports that fewer mainland students are applying for them this year.

In a commentary published in its overseas edition on Wednesday, the paper says student movements in higher educational institutions in Hong Kong have deterred mainland parents, who are worried that their children will live in a “chaotic” environment and neglect their studies. The paper also says protests aimed at mainland shoppers in recent years have created an anti-mainlander atmosphere in society.

people's daily
A commentary on People’s Daily titled “Are HK universities still popular among mainland students?”

The commentary criticised the University of Hong Kong’s law department for leading the “politicised trend”, naming associate professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, one of the initiators of the Occupy Central movement, as well as former dean Johannes Chan Man-mun.

It also blasted student activists Alex Chow Wing-hong and Joshua Wong Chi-fung, both leading figures in last year’s pro-democracy street protests.

The paper accused the Hong Kong Federation of Students of having associations with “foreign forces.”

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“The reason why politics has gotten so deep on campus, besides hot blooded students, a deeper reason is that the British colonial government planted the trick when they left.”
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The paper claimed colonial authorities made HKFS the only legally recognised body for all university student unions to join. The HKFS became a “baton” in the hands of the opposition during Occupy Central, the paper said.

Earlier this week media reports said the number of mainland students applying for places in Hong Kong universities, including Polytechnic University, Baptist University and Lingnan University, dropped by as much as 40% this year.

People’s Daily said Hong Kong is becoming less and less appealing to mainland students as a place both for study and work as more and more graduates choose to return to the mainland to pursue their careers.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.