The student union at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUSU) has decided to dissolve, citing increased difficulties after the university severed ties with the group eight months ago.
“For 50 years CUSU existed as an independent student organization whose representatives were elected through a democratic process. It is a matter of profound regret that CUSU is now history,” it said in a statement on Thursday.
The group announced its decision on Thursday, after a decision was made at a general meeting on September 10 for all student representatives to resign and for the group to disband. Elected student leaders had already stepped down after the university’s earlier decision to sever ties with the student representative body, citing safety concerns.
The union said the decision comes after difficulties reconciling professional legal advice and instructions from the university management to register the body for the new academic year with government agencies.
“We are now torn between following the legal advice or complying with the university administration’s demand,” its statement read.
Founded in 1971, the union was the sole group which represented student interests on its campus. HKFP has reached out to CUHK for comment.
Government officials, including Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung and Secretary for Security Chris Tang, ignored questions about the student union’s dissolution as they left the Legislative Council chamber on Thursday, after attending a Q&A session between Chief Executive Carrie Lam and lawmakers about the last policy address of her term.
Universities under fire
The union’s dissolution also follows increasing pressure from the authorities on university campuses. Last December, national security police arrested eight CUHK students and alumni over a peaceful pro-democracy rally on its campus.
Other campuses in Hong Kong are also under fire. Four former student leaders at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) have been arrested and charged with “advocating terrorism” over a declaration expressing sympathy with a police attacker who committed suicide.
Last week, Lingnan University fired two adjunct professors with pro-democracy affiliations.
The CUSU’s dissolution also comes after dozens of civil society groups have disbanded since the onset of the Beijing-imposed national security law last June, with many citing an inability to see a way forward in the political climate.