A protester waves the Hong Kong colonial flag during a July 2019 demonstration against the extradition law to China. Photo: Ivan Abreu/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A student resolution expressing support for the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement was voted down at the University of Warwick in England, after opposition from mainland Chinese students.

Why it matters: The charged politics of China's actions in Hong Kong are spilling over to university campuses thousands of miles away, raising questions for students and university administrators about how to protect democratic values.

Background: Huge protests have rocked Hong Kong over the past year, as millions of residents have pushed the city's government to table a controversial extradition bill with mainland China and establish universal suffrage.

  • Chinese state media in the mainland, where information is heavily censored, have portrayed the protesters as the violent pawns of "hostile foreign forces." Many Chinese oppose the protest movement.
  • China's treatment of Hong Kong has repeatedly violated the terms of the U.K.'s handover of Hong Kong back to China in 1997, including a provision that promised universal suffrage in the city by 2017.

Details: On February 3, the University of Warwick student union met to discuss a motion that would condemn the "abhorrent human rights abuses of the Hong Kong Police Force and the Hong Kong SAR Government."

  • A student from Hong Kong said, "we have no choice but to seek help from the international community."
  • "I ask all students from the University of Warwick to stand with Hong Kong," said another Hong Kong student. "Today we are trying to speak out against the Chinese government."

University of Warwick students who self-identified as coming from mainland China argued against the resolution.

  • "The student union should not take part in any political stance and should remain neutral," said one Chinese student.
  • "If you ask the students to vote tomorrow, because the number of Chinese students in this university is very large, I guess they will vote against it," said another.

What happened: The Hong Kong resolution failed, with 2,041 votes against and 971 votes for, according to a tally posted to the university website.

  • The resolution caused a huge surge in student voter turnout, with about 2,000 more students than usual casting their votes — approximately equal to the number of "no" votes.
  • During the 2019-2020 academic year, there were a total of 11 resolutions that were put to an all student vote. Each of those resolutions, with the exception of the Hong Kong resolution, was voted on by around 1,000 students; most passed by a wide margin.
  • The Hong Kong resolution was voted on by 3,000 students. It was the only resolution in the 2019-2020 academic year that related to China.

Context: The University of Warwick has about 27,000 students. Of those, around 3,200 are Chinese international students, according to the university website.

  • Chinese students comprise the largest group of international students in Britain, with around 120,000 Chinese international students currently studying at universities there.

The big picture: Chinese international student organizations in several countries have courted controversy for attempting to harass dissidents or shut down activities perceived as critical of the Chinese Communist Party.

  • Chinese embassies and consulates maintain close relationship with Chinese student groups, providing funding, occasional political directives, and even paying them to attend pro-China demonstrations.
  • Mainland Chinese students and Hong Kong students have faced off at numerous universities around the world in the past year, including in Australia and the U.S., as the protests in Hong Kong grew more heated.

Go deeper: China plans sweeping national security law for Hong Kong

Go deeper

NYC pushes back school reopenings 10 days amid threat of teachers' strike

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

New York City is delaying the reopening of its schools by 10 days, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced Tuesday, as part of a deal to avert a teachers' strike.

Why it matters: The deal comes after the unions, representing teachers, staff and administrators in the country's largest school district, demanded more time for schools to adequately prepare for in-person learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sep 1, 2020 - World

Xinjiang residents reportedly forced to take medicine amid coronavirus fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Rumors have swirled for months that local authorities pressed residents of Xinjiang, a far northwestern region in China, to take traditional Chinese medicine during the coronavirus pandemic. Now a new report from the Associated Press based on interviews, public notices and social media posts suggests this may be true.

Why it matters: Forcing an entire population to take medicine that has not been clinically proven to be effective against the coronavirus could be a breach of medical ethics.

Supreme Court blocks Alabama curbside voting measure

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday evening blocked a lower court order that would have allowed voters to cast ballots curbside at Alabama polling places on Election Day.

Whit it matters: With 13 days until Election Day, the justices voted 5-3 to reinstate the curbside voting ban and overturn a lower court judge's ruling designed to protect people with disabilities.

Of note: Liberal Justices Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

  • The lower court judge ruled in favor of a lawsuit arguing that curbside voting would "violate federal laws designed to protect America’s most marginalized citizens" during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.