Taiwan students head home as Hong Kong universities become battle zones

HONG KONG (The China Post/ANN) - Taiwan students at Hong Kong universities are returning to return home amid violent clashes between protesters and police on the school campus.

Authorities are assisting 126 Taiwan students at a Hong Kong university to return home amid violent clashes between protesters and police on the school campus, as tensions continue to escalate in the special administrative region, an official said Wednesday.

The Taiwan student association at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) made the request to the Taiwan government to help the 126 students return home, Kao Ming-tsun (高銘村), acting head of Taiwan’s representative office in Hong Kong, told CNA.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, 78 Taiwanese students left the university on buses provided by his office, Kao said, adding that another 48 students had already left the campus on their own.

The 126 students were scheduled to fly back to Taiwan on a China Airlines flight departing Hong Kong at around 10 p.m., Kao said.

The Taiwanese student association told CNA that it was helping those who wished to return to Taiwan, amid ongoing violent clashes on the CUHK campus between protesters and police. The Taiwanese student population at CUHK totals 303, according to the association.

The violence at CUHK erupted Tuesday when hundreds of black-clad protesters, many of them students, attempted to block riot police from entering the prestigious university near Tai Po.

Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the protesters, and at one point, deployed a water cannon, according to media reports. The police have arrested a number of students on campus, but the exact number has not been confirmed, the reports said.

One of the departing Taiwanese students told CNA that she would never have imagined such violence would occur at a Hong Kong university. Nonetheless, the student said, she would want to return to CUHK when the situation calmed down.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正), meanwhile, told CNA that the government was in close contact with Taiwanese students in Hong Kong via the Taiwanese student associations at the various schools.

According to MAC, 40 Taiwanese students at Hong Kong Polytechnic University have already returned home.

The unrest is part of a months-long pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong that first started in June in opposition to a proposed bill that would have allowed the extradition of criminal suspects to China for trial.

While the proposed bill has since been withdrawn, the protests have morphed into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms in the special administrative region of China, but Beijing and the Hong Kong authorities have refused to budge on any of the protesters’ other demands.


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