A man who assaulted an instructor after an outburst in a classroom at the University of Hong Kong was arrested on Monday, witnesses said.
Cliff Buddle, a senior editor at the South China Morning Post and a lecturer in media law and ethics at HKU, was physically and verbally attacked by the 26-year-old, who claimed to be a student at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
“He stood up suddenly and began to yell in Mandarin that Hong Kong is part of China, so all the classes should be taught in Mandarin, not in English,” Vangary Li, a student at the scene, told the Wall Street Journal. “He also yelled about being patriotic to China,” he said.
The man, who police identified as Lau, was arrested for assault. Officers said it was unclear whether he was a resident in the mainland or in Hong Kong, as he didn’t carry a student card, but he told them that he was a student at Tsinghua and was originally from Anhui.
A news report from HKU JMSC students showed Lau telling security guards and police that he thought more Hong Kong students should be speaking Mandarin.
“Hong Kong has been returned to China. Now it’s already 2014. Seven to eight years should be enough for a change to learn [Putonghua], but Hong Kong just can’t change,” Lau said in the video.
“I just can’t bear the foreigners,” he added. “I get along well with Chinese.”
Buddle, 50, was treated for injuries after reportedly being kicked in the chest and hit with a hard-cover folder.
“He suddenly walked to the front of the class during my lecture and assaulted me,” Buddle told SCMP. “There was no discussion.”
Students who spoke to WSJ said that Lau made no mention of the ongoing pro-democracy protests currently unfolding in the city.
“When [the assailant] was yelling that we should learn in Mandarin, many of us yelled back that this is Hong Kong, which means if anything, classes should be held in Cantonese or English,” Keina Chu said in the report.
Classes at HKU are primarily taught in English. About a year ago, tensions escalated between mainland and Hong Kong students at City University of Hong Kong when one student “demanded” that the professor use Mandarin while teaching a Cantonese-language course.
[Video via YouTube]