A row over a logo redesign by one of Hong Kong’s top universities has stirred concerns over university autonomy in the city after pro-Beijing lawmakers said they had not been consulted over the change and the old logo was reinstated.
The new design of Chinese University of Hong Kong’s (CUHK) crest, unveiled just a week ago, was ditched on Tuesday 25 October after a meeting of the university’s governing council.
The new crest has been removed from the university’s website and social media pages after Hong Kong legislators, who also sit on the university’s governing council, said they were “shocked” at the update which they claimed had, without consultation, removed elements “fundamental to Chinese culture”.
The university unveiled a ‘brand refresh’ on 17 October which included a new emblem with a mythical Chinese phoenix on a purple shield, intended to mark the university’s 60th anniversary.
‘Everything is political now’
Other pro-Beijing legislators, who are not on the university’s council, also weighed in on the changes in a manner that showed, one CUHK academic said on condition of anonymity, “how everything is political now” in Hong Kong’s universities.
“They [universities] are being watched closely by the pro-Beijing faction, so that even small changes like the university emblem cannot be permitted without their say-so.”
The old version, now restored, divided the shield into two with the colours reversed on the right-hand side.
On Monday the university wrote in a statement that the new emblem would have a pure purple background instead of split colours in order to provide “a clearer, more distinctive and dynamic look [for] the mythical Chinese phoenix”.
It would also introduce a simplified logo for digital use, removing the motto, “through learning and temperance to virtue”, that appeared underneath the shield.
The 59-member university council includes top management, academics and ‘laymen’, with three seats allocated to legislators. The three legislators on the council have demanded an “independent investigation” into the redesign process.
Bill Tang, a CUHK council member and a legislator representing trade unions, accused the university management of acting ‘recklessly’. He said he had not seen the new version until the day before it was announced.