A retired Chinese University professor has said that he was told by a school staff member not to speak about “sensitive topics” in front of mainland academics.

Former philosophy professor Cheung Chan-fai said that, since his retirement in 2012, he often represented CUHK when talking to groups on the mainland and abroad about the university’s General Education programme.

Speaking at a campus forum on Wednesday, he said that a member of the school’s administration sent him a letter a few months ago: “It said: Professor Cheung, next time you [give a] talk, can you maybe not discuss sensitive subjects in front of our mainland scholars?”

Cheung Chan-fai
Cheung Chan-fai. Photo: Stand News.

During the forum on freedom of speech and university education, Cheung questioned whether the letter was sent by the administrative officer of their own initiative.

He said that, in his many years of teaching, he had never been told what he could and could not say, whether in the mainland or elsewhere. He said it made him extremely angry.

“If you say that, you’re insulting me, insulting CUHK,” he said.

Cheung Chan-fai
Cheung speaking at the campus forum. Photo: Screenshot.

He also said that he had never been met with a similar situation during his decade-long tenure leading the philosophy department.

When Stand News made further enquiries about his comments, Cheung said he did not “want to say too much,” and added that he only brought up the incident to make people aware that the tightening of freedom of speech was a trend. He added that he had handled the letter “appropriately.”

A staff member at CUHK’s media department said it was impossible to look into the matter as Cheung did not say which department the letter came from.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.