(中文版请向下翻)

Opening remarks by President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Xiang Zhang at HKU President's Forum

On July 3rd, as Davin just mentioned, I issued a short statement which have drawn some criticisms from our students and alumni. I understand your concern and frustrations and I wish to say a few words before we engage in further discussion.
I am sure you would agree that events occurred in June and July have been happening surprisingly fast. In fact, spiraling downward with the situation getting worse so quickly. At that time, I was flying back from an overseas trip when I saw the news on TV on July 1st and I was very very sad, angry and above all, very worried about our citizens’ lives. If you think about it, in a confined environment in the LegCo building, if students or protestors are engaged in a very small space, what could have happened?
I have a true fear, even today, of violence. All my life I have witnessed many unfortunate confrontations and I know once violence begins, it can easily lead to tragedy. Bloodshed can be a point of no return. Violence is never a solution. I personally am against violence of any kind, by any party, at any juncture.
I want to tell you, with hands in my heart, the fear of violence is the underlying cause of my immediate reaction. I wanted to remind everyone not to resort to violence. I had no intention to please or to place blame on anyone.
Of course some of our students and alumni are also concerned with the University’s academic freedom. As I said before, academic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are core values of our University. I pledge to uphold these important values.
We at HKU support our students in freely expressing themselves. We care about your safety and well-being. As the President of this great University, it is my moral obligation to protect our students.
I am also aware that my statement had not eased the tension in Hong Kong, while the criticism made by some students and alumni and others was that my comments lacked a certain empathy for individuals engaging in peaceful demonstration and protests. Looking back, I find this criticism is perhaps fair. My short remarks indeed have failed to address frustrations and aspirations of some of our students and alumni.
I am grateful tonight to have this opportunity to listen and to talk to all of you. This is probably the first time in HKU and even in Hong Kong that we can sit down and start a dialogue since June. We come from different generations and with different political beliefs maybe, but we can sit together in this gorgeous Loke Yew Hall in this historical building.
Today we have about 600 students, alumni, staff and friends here. We have media friends at the back, the whole of Hong Kong is watching us. I really hope this kind of frank and direct conversation can start not only in HKU but also at every corner of our society. We are never afraid of contrasting views. We treasure and celebrate diversity, diverse views and diverse people, in Hong Kong, in Hong Kong U. I hope this type of dialogue may help all people in Hong Kong, including the government, to listen to each other, especially the true voice of our youth and Hong Kong people. Thank you very much!
(该中文版由何以明德翻译,如有歧义,以上方英文版为准)

7月3日,正如Davin(香港大学学生会代表,编者注)刚刚提到的那样,我发表了一份简短的声明,引起了学生和校友的一些批评。我理解您的担忧和挫折,我想在进一步讨论之前说几句话。
我相信你会同意6月和7月发生的事件发展得非常快。事实上,情况的恶化非常迅速,螺旋式下降。7月1日,我在电视上看到这个消息,那时我正在结束海外旅行飞回来,我非常伤心,生气,最重要的是,非常担心我们市民的生活。如果你考虑一下,在立法会大楼的狭窄环境中,如果学生或抗议者在一个很小的空间里,可能会发生什么?
即使在今天,我也真的害怕暴力。我一生都目睹了许多不幸的对抗,我知道一旦暴力开始,就很容易导致悲剧。流血可能是一个不归路。暴力永远不是解决方案。我个人反对任何一方的任何形式的暴力。
我想告诉你,在我的心中,对暴力的恐惧是我立即反应的根本原因。我想提醒大家不要诉诸暴力。我无意取悦或责备任何人。
当然,我们的一些学生和校友也关注大学的学术自由。正如我之前所说,学术自由,言论自由和集会自由是我们大学的核心价值观。我保证坚持这些重要的价值观。
我们香港大学支持我们的学生自由表达自己。我们关心你们的安全和幸福。作为这所伟大大学的校长,保护学生是我的道德义务。
我也知道,我的发言没有缓解香港的紧张局势,而一些学生和校友及其他人的批评是,我的评论对参与和平示威和抗议活动的个人缺乏一定的同情。回想起来,我发现这种批评可能是公平的。我的简短言论确实未能解决我们的一些学生和校友的挫折和愿望。
我很高兴今晚有机会倾听并与大家交谈。这可能是从六月开始,首次在香港大学,甚至在香港,我们可以坐下来开始对话。我们来自不同的世代,有不同的政治信仰,但我们可以一起坐在这座历史建筑中的这个华丽的陆佑堂里。
今天,我们在这里有大约600名学生,校友,工作人员和朋友。我们在后面有媒体朋友,整个香港都在关注着我们。我真的希望这种坦诚而直接的对话不仅可以在香港大学开始,也可以在我们社会的每个角落开始。我们从不害怕对比观点。我们珍惜庆贺香港和香港大学有这样的多元化,多元化的观点和多元化的人。我希望这种对话可以帮助香港所有人,也包括政府,互相倾听,特别是我们的青年和香港人真正的声音。非常感谢你!
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