The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) turned into a war zone on November 12, dominated by a huge fire and smoke, road barricades and fierce confrontation between rioters and police. (Photo: Global Times)
After days of the rampage, black-clad rioters have turned Hong Kong universities into a Syria-like war zone, and more mainland students and professors escaped from Hong Kong universities on Wednesday.
Some of them expressed their frustration against the schools' management, which they say have failed to protect them and indulged rioters. Many of the rioters are students, and observers urged tougher measures to end the violence.
Hundreds of students were believed to have fled from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) on Wednesday, with some saying they were extremely petrified as they saw their school on fire. Black-clad rioters threw hundreds of Molotov cocktails at the CUHK since the clash between rioters and police on Tuesday.
Rioters also smashed some teachers' offices and branches of Chinese mainland banks and vandalized stores. Such craziness and lawlessness have been spreading across the campus of the university, which are considered among the world's leading educational institutions.
Hong Kong police questioned why the schools have now turned into an "arsenal," a place to train mobs, while the video showed black-clad protesters being taught how to make explosives and shoot a bow and arrow in the school.
Tse Chun-chung, chief superintendent of the public relations branch of the Hong Kong police, said at a press conference on Wednesday that rioters threw more than 400 Molotov cocktails on Tuesday, the highest number in the past few months.
"College and university campuses are places where future pillars of society are born. Why have they turned into arsenals?" Tse asked.
During the past few days when riots have shifted from the streets to the campuses, some radicals also targeted mainland students, as hatred and distrust of the central and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) governments have become more palpable among rioters in the months of social unrest.
Several mainland students told the Global Times that they have been besieged and had to stay in their dormitories, stocking up on instant noodles.
"We have to hurry up, to get our students back to the mainland as quickly as possible," a female student told the Global Times. "Their parents are so worried about their safety, and many heartwarming local residents came to offer help and gave us a ride to the customs," she said.
CUHK on Wednesday announced the end of term one of the 2019-20 academic year over security concerns, saying that "the safety of our students and colleagues is always the top priority."
The Education Bureau in Hong Kong also announced on Wednesday that classes at all Hong Kong schools will be suspended on Thursday.
The education authority on the island of Taiwan confirmed on Wednesday that over 80 Taiwan students have left Hong Kong and most of them came from CUHK.
Rocky Tuan Sung-chi, president of CUHK, on Tuesday, told students at the university that if they could guarantee to not throw Molotov cocktails, then the police would retreat.
However, the rioters continued to throw Molotov cocktails after the police retreat.
Analysts told the Global Times that the rioters' current terror-instigating acts have absolutely nothing to do with their so-called political appeals.
A teacher at CUHK who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Wednesday that black-clad rioters have controlled the campus.
"They have splashed gasoline on the gates of the campus and the entrance and exit near the railway station. As long as the police officers come, the rioters will set the gasoline on the fire," the teacher said.
Escape from chaos
Under such an intense situation, Hong Kong police confirmed on Wednesday that they have helped mainland students from the CUHK leave the campus.
Many people, universities and organizations from the mainland have also offered help to the mainland students.
The Shenzhen branch of the Chinese Communist Youth League is providing seven days of free accommodations for mainland students studying in Hong Kong.
The City University of Hong Kong Shenzhen Research Institute said it can arrange for about 200 students to rest and study.
The Beijing Foreign Studies University South China Institute based in Foshan, South China's Guangdong Province announced it will provide 15 days of free accommodations to 75 mainland students studying in Hong Kong.
Other mainland-based universities, such as Harbin Institute of Technology, Shenzhen provides free dormitories and classrooms for its alumni.
When some students arrived in Shenzhen, the neighboring city of Hong Kong, they said they were relieved as they have arrived at a safe place. "It was the darkest day. Now, our motherland can protect us," a CUHK student who preferred not to be identified told the Global Times.
Mainland students preferred not to be named due to concerns over online doxxing, which has become common, as protesters expose the personal information of those who disagree with them.
Any solution welcome
The Hong Kong police confirmed to the Global Times on Wednesday that it would invite the Flying Tiger of the Correctional Services Department to help with operations to end rioting activities.
"What happened at CUHK on Tuesday was a bad omen for Hong Kong," Tse said during the press conference, adding that the police welcome any solution that can end the chaos.
A group of CUHK scholars reportedly released an open letter on Wednesday, saying that Tuesday was the most shameful day since the university was established over 50 years ago.
The CUHK scholars made their request to the university in the open letter, including their willingness to cooperate with the police to investigate criminal offenses on campus and strictly ban face masks on campus.
Experts said the HKSAR government must start to react as the Hong Kong police and mainlanders are helping hundreds of students flee Hong Kong after the escalation of violence at CUHK on Tuesday.
"The HKSAR government must take action to stop the escalating violence and chaos," He Liangliang, a commentator on the Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
He said that there is no problem with the Hong Kong police's enforcement of the law, and the key is that the HKSAR government needs to make a firm decision to stop the chaos.
He said the HKSAR government has not formed an effective command system to deal with such violence.
"Hong Kong has interdepartmental coordination even in rat control. But why hasn't the HKSAR government formed a unified command organization when the city is in such a large-scale and long-term chaos?" the commentator said.
Some Western media reports saying that Hong Kong police incited a confrontation on campus have been refuted by Chinese experts.
"Since these rioters are acting rampantly at campuses, it is a must for the Hong Kong police to take action to restore order," Li Xiaobing, an expert on Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan studies at Nankai University in Tianjin, told the Global Times on Wednesday, adding that such reports distort the facts.
Authorities should pass tougher laws and regulations to deal with such riots and violence, such as imposing curfew in some areas of Hong Kong to avoid the spread of chaos, Li noted.