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Professor in Exile: Chinese Universities Are under Strict Surveillance

A professor from China now living in the United States paints a very disturbing picture of the information control in Chinese universities.

Tan Song, an associate professor at Chongqing Normal University investigated the truth about the “land reform movement,” the Anti-Rightist Campaign, the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Because he did so, the school expelled him and the police arrested him. Another charge was that he taught about the 1989 Student Movement and the June 4th Tiananmen Massacre. In 2017, he was forced to leave China and is currently living in exile in Los Angeles.

Tan said that in Chinese colleges and universities, the “Tiananmen Square protest of 1989” is an absolutely untouchable topic. He once tried to understand how much his students knew about what happened in 1989. Not a single student knew about it. He said, “I later found out that these students, from kindergarten to elementary school, junior high school, high school, and through the university, not a single teacher ever told them about the 1989 protests. One cannot blame the teachers. Nowadays the university is very sensitive to this topic. If any teacher dares to speak the truth about the incident in the classroom, the lightest punishment is that the teacher will leave his teaching position. He will either be expelled or be sent to the police station. I know a teacher at the Sichuan Foreign Languages College. Because he taught about the June 4th incident, the police immediately took him away.”

Tan said that, in today’s Internet age, some students do not know it from the classroom but learned about the June 4th 1989 incident and the persecution that followed from the Internet. “A student received a short video from his friend about the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. He uploaded the video to the campus network and was quickly discovered. At the time of discovery, thirty-six students had already downloaded the video. Each of the thirty-six students was taken away and the police came to talk to them one by one, with a warning as the punishment. The original student who uploaded the video was taken away and no one knows his whereabouts.”

Tan added that in today’s Chinese universities, surveillance cameras are widely installed in the classrooms, and the authorities hire informants among the students. “The teacher’s every move in the classroom is monitored. Nowadays one does not need to come to the classroom to monitor the teachers. It’s just like the police monitoring traffic. When you want classroom 305, the computer will get it for you. How could the university teacher give a lecture in class? The informant’s job is to report on the teachers and students. What the teacher said in the class, the informant will report. The informant officers contact each other on a one-to-one basis and the students will not know they do so. Of course, those who work as informants will benefit in the future such as in placement and becoming a Party member. Under current circumstances, in Chinese colleges and universities, no one dares to say anything.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, September 28, 2018