Incoming Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) president Wei Shyy has said he will respect a joint statement issued by ten universities last year when it comes to discussion of Hong Kong independence on campus.
The school announced this week that Shyy, the school’s executive vice-president and provost, would replace Tony Chan Fan-cheong as HKUST president.
Chan’s term ends in 2019, but the school announced that he will step down this September. The school started its global search to find the right candidate for president last year.
At a press conference on Thursday, Shyy was repeatedly asked by reporters about his stance on Hong Kong independence.
In response, Shyy said he was part of the administration at HKUST when the heads of ten universities in Hong Kong published a joint statement condemning “abuses” of free expression on campus and calling Hong Kong independence unconstitutional.
“I don’t have any reason to suggest we are not going to follow that. And certainly that was issued under a lot of deliberation in my view and that continues to stand.”
He also said he was not asked by the university about his stance on the matter prior to his appointment.
Asked if he would allow students to set up groups discussing the feasibility of independence, he said it was hard to answer without a specific case in front of him, but he would strive for mutual understanding among all members on campus on all issues.
“We already have joined the… statement back in September last year. That is HKUST’s position overall, but any individual cases, I would love to talk to any concerned and interested members, students or colleagues at the university so we can have better mutual understanding and mutual support.”
In response to questions surrounding whether he will speak to officials from the China Liaison Office after he assumes the position, Shyy said it would not serve the school’s interests to refuse to talk to any parties, but the university “does not receive any such directives.” Last week, outgoing University of Hong Kong chief Peter Mathieson admitted that Beijing’s office in Hong Kong had contacted him.
According to the bio on UST’s website, aerospace engineer Shyy chaired the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan before joining HKUST. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Tsing-Hua University in Taiwan, and his master of science in engineering and PhD degree from the University of Michigan.
He has received awards for his research and for other contributions, including the AIAA 2003 Pendray Aerospace Literature Award, the ASME 2005 Heat Transfer Memorial Award, and The Engineers’ Council (Sherman Oaks, CA) 2009 Distinguished Educator Award.