A poster mocking the death of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has appeared on the campus of the Education University, two days after a similar poster mocking the death of a local official’s son was widely condemned and removed.
Written in simplified Chinese, the apparently satirical poster on the Democracy Wall read: “Congratulations to Liu Bandit Xiaobo on going west, congratulations to [his wife] Liu Xia on being forever house-imprisoned by our party.”
The Nobel Laureate died two months ago shortly after being released on medical parole due to terminal liver cancer, having been sentenced to 11 years’ in prison in 2009 for “subversion.” His wife has not been allowed to contact the outside world since his death, but has reportedly returned to her Beijing home.
The Education University said on Saturday morning that it strongly condemned the poster, and has removed it in accordance with policy owing to its offensive nature.
The row over posters began after banners supporting Hong Kong independence were displayed and then taken down at the Chinese University of Hong Kong earlier in the week. Competing messages soon began appearing on the symbolic Democracy Wall with those who supported, and those who opposed, independence vying for space. Arguments then broke out between Cantonese and Mandarin-speaking students.
As news broke that the son of the pro-Beijing education undersecretary Choi Yuk-lin had fallen from his apartment on Thursday, a poster “congratulating” Choi on his death appeared on the Democracy Wall of Education University.
That evening, Education University vice-chancellor Stephen Cheung told TVB that he would investigate CCTV footage to determine whether the perpetrators were students or outsiders. “If they were outsiders, we we’ll put them online to tell everyone that it’s these two men who did such shocking things,” he added.
On Friday, a media outlet managed to obtain and publish CCTV screenshots showing the faces of two men who appeared to put up the poster in question.
The student union of Education University released a statement that evening condemning the leak of the screenshots to the media. “[The school] has brought hot-headed Cultural Revolution-style public criticisms – so prevalent in Hong Kong in recent years – onto campus,” it read.
Student union President Lai Hiu-ching said the Liu Xiaobo poster was of similar wording to the poster on Choi’s son, but the school had adopted different attitudes for the two incidents.
Vice-chancellor Stephen Cheung did not specifically hold a press conference in person to condemn the Liu Xiaobo poster, unlike when handling the poster on Choi’s son. Lai said it would make the public consider whether the different attitudes were because of the different political backgrounds of the incidents.
“Clearly the levels of condemnation were different,” she said.
Lai also said she heard from top school officials at a meeting on the incidents that some schools had said they will not employ Education University graduates, and internship opportunities for around ten students were cancelled.
Lai said such actions would seriously affect students and she hoped the public should not make condemnations before the identities of people who pasted the posters were confirmed.
“Even if the posters were pasted up by Education University students, what does it have to do with other students?” she said.
Education secretary Kevin Yeung said he has not heard such news.
Meanwhile, on Friday night, three people also put up posters mocking the death of Choi’s son at City University, while being filmed by companions.
The three people later stopped by security staffers, who suspected the person was not a student. They called the police, but no arrests have been made.