By Benjamin Salmon, Deputy News Editor
Bristol students currently on exchange in Hong Kong have been urged to return home.
The University have guaranteed flights home to students who wish to come back to the United Kingdom through their insurance policies, though there is no mandatory repatriation effort yet.
Recent protests have been focused in and around major universities in Hong Kong.
Bristol’s new stance specifically affects 15 students at the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the City University of Hong Kong.
Speaking to Epigram, the University said: ‘We will continue to monitor security advice from our insurers and the FCO and will provide ongoing support to students if they wish to stay in Hong Kong.
‘Flights are being booked for students who wish to return and staff will work with them to identify options for the rest of their year to ensure there is no detrimental impact on their studies as a result.
‘Our priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all students and travelling staff.’
It is not yet confirmed whether or not students will return their Hong Kong universities after the Christmas break, though it is widely expected they will not.
Hong Kong protesters are upgrading their weapons in the latest showdown with police. Javelins and bows and arrows were spotted at university campuses, which pro-democracy lawmakers have described as ‘battlefields’ https://t.co/wAHlLDElC6 pic.twitter.com/hjM8OUKK3D— Reuters (@Reuters) November 13, 2019
Ella Kennedy, a third-year law student studying at the University of Hong Kong, told Epigram: ‘I think they've (the University of Bristol) handled it well. I know a lot of unis … who have essentially given students no choice - they just tell them to come home.
‘I do understand why because on the news it seems crazy here, but you really can’t understand what it’s like unless you're actually here, and I know a lot of students (myself included) still feel very safe.
‘So, I think it’s good that Bristol has given us the choice.’
Ms Kennedy also stressed her support for the protests: ‘I'm behind them. Sure, it’s frustrating not being able to move around the city if public transport is closed or whatever, but compared to what they are fighting for its so totally trivial.
‘I have felt conflicted with regards to some of the really violent/disruptive conduct of the protestors … but I spoke to some protestors yesterday and they explained that the reason they don't publicly condemn that kind of behaviour is because it’s more important for the protestors to be united.
‘I think as a foreign student I can’t even begin to fully understand what it means for the Hongkongers out there fighting every day.’
The ongoing protests in Hong Kong initially started in spring 2019 in response to a controversial bill that would have extradited criminals to mainland China for trial.
They have since morphed into a greater movement against the perceived encroachment of China into Hong Kong society.
Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997, when power was ceded to China.
Since then, Hong Kong is supposed to experience a 30-year transition period until it is fully politically absorbed into China.
However, many accuse China of overstepping its mark, as seen through the recent protests.
Featured image credit: Unsplash / Claudio Schwartz
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