Taipei, Oct. 2 (CNA) Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) on Wednesday called on Chinese students in Taiwan to cherish freedom of speech and refrain from violence or targeting other students, in the wake of several incidents at local universities, where expressions of support for the ongoing protests in Hong Kong have resulted in scuffles and violence.
Speaking on the sideline of a legislative session, Pan said the ministry has established an ad hoc team to work with local universities, especially those with large numbers of students from China and Hong Kong, to address the issue.
A number of disputes have been reported on local campuses between Hong Kong and Chinese students over their different views of the months-long democracy protests in the Special Administrative Region of China.
Pan said the ministry has informed all universities and their campus security report centers to safeguard student safety and freedom of speech. School authorities have also been advised to help those students who face verbal abuse and physical violence and wish to take legal action, he added.
"The true meaning of college education is to allow students from different countries engage in exchanges and to respect different opinions," Pan said, affirming that the government will not tolerate any violence targeting individuals exercising freedom of speech.
Pan's remarks were made in response to media reports of four such incidents as of late September; two in which Hong Kong students in Taiwan were confronted by Chinese students over expressions of support for the Hong Kong protests, and two others when materials supporting the demonstrations were torn down from message boards.
One of the latest incidents happened at National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu on Sept. 30, when two message boards on the campus showing post-it notes supporting the Hong Kong protests were damaged by unknown persons.
Currently, about 30,000 Chinese students are enrolled at universities in Taiwan and 7,700 from Hong Kong, according to the education ministry.