Chinese nationalistic newspaper Global Times has joined Hong Kong pro-government newspapers in bashing a University of Hong Kong law professor at the eye of an academic storm. It comes days after the first anniversary of the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement.

The tabloid, run by Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, called Johannes Chan, former University of Hong Kong law faculty dean, “the ringleader of Occupy Central” after the university’s governing body refused to appoint Chan to a key managerial position.

Global Times report titled “HKU refuses to appoint Occupy Central ringleader as pro-vice-chancellor.” Photo: HKFP.

The HKU Council voted to reject Chan’s nomination as pro-vice-chancellor, a position in charge of academic appointments and resources, on Tuesday evening. In a press conference following the vote, Council chairman Edward Leong Che-hung said the decision “is best for HKU’s long-term interest” without offering more concrete reasons for rejecting Chan.

The result of the anonymous vote reflected “the will of the people”, Global Times said in a report on Wednesday.

Johannes Chan. Photo: StandNews.

The newspaper cited Hong Kong pro-government media as saying Chan came under fire for his involvement in Occupy Central, also known as the Umbrella Movement, as well as for his handling of an anonymous donation to his subordinate, Occupy co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting.

The report described Chan as “lacking executive and academic skills” and “embroiled in a black money scandal.”

Students, alumni and politicians have condemned HKU Council’s decision as the academic controversy turns increasingly political.

For continuous updates on the controversy, please follow our live blog here.

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Vivienne Zeng

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.