On the evening of May 15th, Peking University (PKU) students held an on-campus gathering to protest the school’s construction of a wall separating the Wanliu student dormitories from the faculty and staff areas. Protesters were upset that the school had erected the barricade without informing or consulting the student body, and concerned that it would lead to students being placed under stricter COVID-prevention measures than their professors or administrators. The student protesters put forward three demands: apply quarantine restrictions equally to anyone living on campus; tear down the “Berlin Wall” around the Wanliu student dorms; and have PKU President Hao Ping come out to address the students.
In the end, it was PKU Vice-President Chen Baojian who addressed the students. Speaking through a megaphone, he promised to meet with students in their dorms, in groups of ten, to discuss their concerns. He then urged the students to return to their dorms “in an orderly fashion” and to put down their phones and stop recording the scene “to protect PKU, our PKU.” (Just two days later, PKU students wearing rainbow masks to mark International Day Against Homophobia would be asked by teachers and campus plainclothes police to switch to plain masks, lest they “be used by people with ulterior motives.”)
The viral video spread widely, and in various iterations, on Chinese social media until it was eventually blocked. The term 北大万柳 (“Peking University Wanliu”) was also officially blocked on Weibo.
The compilation video (with bilingual Chinese-English subtitles by CDT editors) below shows Chen Baojian’s speech, student reactions, and the eventual destruction of the wall from several different perspectives.
With translation by Alex Yu.