For Leo, one of about 5,000 Hongkongers studying at Jinan University in Guangzhou, the democracy movement feels achingly distant but its effects ripple through his daily campus life, widening the gulf with mainland students.
Leo often travels home on weekends to visit his family and has seen the street skirmishes up close.
He strongly supports the protest but, back on campus on weekdays, he’s careful about how he shows his interest. He shares photos about the movement with mainland friends but they express little interest, he says.
Organising a social activity, even one as benign as a Christmas get-together, is frowned upon by the campus administration, so a gathering with a political bent is out of the question.
“Many of us [Hongkongers] support and understand the students who remain in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok,” said Leo, whose full name cannot be used due to fears of possible reprisals by the school. “So far, we haven’t felt a taboo on talking about it on campus. But the conversations are usually only among the Hong Kong students.”
Jinan has the most international student body of any mainland university. Nearly a third of its 35,320 students come from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan or overseas countries.