The head of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has said the school may seek assistance from the government if it cannot function due to ongoing occupation of the campus by protesters.

On Monday and Tuesday, fierce clashes between police, students and protesters broke out on several university campuses including at CUHK. Police and protesters fought for control of the No. 2 Bridge above the Tolo Highway, which had been blocked by objects. The Sha Tin-based campus saw volleys of tear gas being fired and Molotov cocktails being thrown in return.

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Rocky Tuan. Photo:

CUHK Vice-Chancellor Rocky Tuan said in an open letter on Friday that more than a thousand people in masks had arrived at the school following online calls to bolster reserves after clashes.

Tuan said the school believed most of them were not CUHK students and the campus had become chaotic. He urged everyone, regardless of whether they were part of the school, to leave.

“The university is a place for knowledge, and not a warzone for resolving political conflict, and even for making weapons and using force,” he said. “If the university cannot exercise its basic missions, we will have to seek assistance from relevant government departments to resolve the current crisis.”

He said that since Tuesday there had been instances of arson, bricks being dug up, school vehicles being used without authorisation, buildings and restaurants vandalised, and resources being transported into the school to make petrol bombs.

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Protesters clash with riot police on CUHK campus. Photo: Stand News.

Tuan also said dangerous and inflammable items had been stolen from university labs.

“We express deep regret that the university was used for the above illegal acts, causing serious harm to public safety. It will take months to repair the large scale damage to the campus,” he said.

He said masked protesters had been performing body and bag searches as well as identity checks on anyone entering or leaving the campus.

“Our campus has been occupied by masked protesters, including those from outside. The situation is out of control and unacceptable,” he said.

CUHK has ended its semester two weeks ahead of schedule as a result of the clashes.

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Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.