Hong Kong democracy advocate Chan Kin-man (陳健民) has accepted a teaching post at National Chengchi University (NCCU) for one year starting in September, a university department head said on Monday.
Chan’s invitation to serve as a visiting professor represents an important opportunity not only for academics in Hong Kong, but for all Hong Kong people. As Beijing continues to crack down on dissent in Hong Kong, its residents face enforced censorship or self-censor. Beijing is trying to bury Hong Kong’s unique culture and way of life and has already suppressed academic freedom.
Taiwan can provide a safe haven for the voices of Hong Kong people – a place where they can speak out freely and share their stories without fear of reprisal.
Chan said that while in Taiwan he will be working on a book he wrote. One of Beijing’s earliest targets in Hong Kong was literary expression when it arrested book publishers in 2015. That is why it is imperative for Taiwan to protect Hong Kong authors and publishers.
Future generations of Hong Kong people – including those in the global diaspora – will be able to access uncensored Hong Kong literature if it is published and stored in Taiwan. It is clear that the government is aware of the importance of this task since it allowed Lam Wing-kei (林榮基), former director of Causeway Bay Books in Hong Kong, to immigrate. Lam said Taiwan is particularly aware of the value of literary freedom, as it suffered censorship under the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.
The importance of giving refuge to critical thinkers in Hong Kong became even more urgent last week when Google, Facebook and other companies said they could pull out of the territory. The move would be necessary to protect their workers from lawsuits under a proposed amendment to the Personal Data Protection Ordinance, the companies said.
In an April 15 article on the Financial Times website, a primary school teacher in Hong Kong is quoted as saying that she “rethinks every word she writes or every picture she shows to the class. “, And that she has the feeling of having” a noose [her] to manage.”
The article says that school principals in Hong Kong “have already ordered libraries to remove books deemed politically incorrect, and teaching materials will be checked.” Parts of the curriculum, such as liberal studies classes, were cut altogether, and even the American International School was targeted for showing a map of China that did not include Taiwan.
Therefore, it is not surprising that Taiwanese universities reported a 44% increase in the number of applications from Hong Kong students last year. For many Hong Kong students, especially those who wish or prefer to study using Chinese as the language of instruction, Taiwan might be the only option that guarantees them academic freedom.
Having instructors from Hong Kong working at Taiwanese universities would be one way to help Hong Kong students make this transition, especially if universities could offer courses using Cantonese as the language of instruction, or allow student researchers to make this transition. ” have university supervisors who speak Cantonese.
The government should seek to hire outstanding academics from Hong Kong – especially those who have criticized Beijing’s crackdown on its people – to teach or conduct research and writing in Taiwan. This would not only benefit the Taiwanese research community, but also help preserve the academic and literary freedom of Cantonese speakers for future generations.
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