The repressive security law imposed on Hong Kong by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) raises concerns on American university campuses where they are wary of the possibility that Chinese students starting courses may be prosecuted for having dissenting opinions.
For this year, many of the classes at prestigious universities will carry the following warning label, “This course may cover material considered politically sensitive by China,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Journal noted that those who watch courses at Princeton University, for example, expect to use codes rather than names in an effort to protect their identity. Meanwhile, an Amherst College professor wants to open anonymous online chats so students can speak freely.
As the National Review pointed out, in late June a law was imposed by Beijing that gives the CCP broad authority to arrest any resident suspected of crimes against “national security.”
The national security law states that offenses against the administration of Hong Kong “from outside the Region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the Region” will be subject to prosecution, meaning that anyone in the world can be prosecuted under the CCP law.
The law, which was implemented despite protests by pro-democracy protesters, says that those involved in acts of “sedition, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces” can be prosecuted.
In an effort to reduce the risk to Hong Kong students and teachers, schools and universities in the United States have taken various measures.
Harvard Business School, for example, hopes to avoid raising sensitive political discussions for those students concerned about the risk of prosecution, according to the Wall Street Journal.
As Business Insider reported, in the 2018-2019 school year, more than 370,000 Chinese students and nearly 7,000 Hong Kong students enrolled in U.S. universities, and many chose to take courses in Chinese politics.
“If we, as a Chinese teaching community, out of fear stop teaching things like Tiananmen or Xinjiang or whatever sensitive topic the Chinese government [CCP] doesn’t want us talking about, if we cave, then we’ve lost. … We cannot self-censor,” Rory Truex, an assistant professor who teaches Chinese politics at Princeton, told The Journal.
For teachers, concern for Chinese students adds to their concern that they may have to travel or visit the country themselves at a later date.
According to Business Insider, earlier this month Samuel Chu, a naturalized American citizen from Hong Kong, was placed on a list of fugitives after urging Congress to implement a sanction against the CCP for limiting Hong Kong’s autonomy.