HONG KONG, March 13 (UPI) -- Academics in Hong Kong have signed a petition that conveyed their unease over China's intervention in Hong Kong's universities, pointing out the Chinese government's meddling poses a "serious threat to academic freedom."
The Washington Post reported Friday scholars in the Chinese territory were fighting for their independence months after students in the city led Occupy Central, a series of pro-democratic protests in 2014.
Hong Kong's pro-Beijing chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, has been trying to prevent the appointment of a liberal scholar to a position at Hong Kong University: Johannes Chan Man-was had spoken out against the Chinese government during the Occupy Central protests.
Beijing however, said it values intellectual freedom and the independence of universities.
The Washington Post reported an unnamed professor said the pressures Beijing applied to academics that supported pro-democracy activism are conducted implicitly, but it sends a clear message to "keep silent and focus on research."
Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, a professor of political science at the City University of Hong Kong said young academics feel pressured to be "politically correct," and not criticize China's policy toward Hong Kong.
Australia's Lowy Institute for International Policy said in February the protests that ended relatively peacefully with the restoration of order in Hong Kong might be followed by tighter restrictions on civic freedoms, and Beijing is likely to increase its influence over the education sector.
In China, the Lowy Institute wrote, education policy focuses on correct guidance that leans more toward "obedience and loyalty, rather than freedom and critical thinking."