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Many Examples of Malicious Reporting and Attacks on Academic Freedom

On November 5, the School of History at China’s Capital Normal University in Beijing hosted an offline lecture, “Shen Zhihua: The Establishment and End of the Soviet Socialist Model.” The lecture was simultaneously broadcasted live on the Chinese video sharing platform Bilibili. The lecturer Shen Zhihua is a well-known expert on Cold War history. He is a tenured professor at the History Department of East China Normal University. The lecture and live broadcast were interrupted after the event had been going on for about one hour. After the incident, the organizer’s social media account issued a statement, “This lecture was forced to transfer to the Tencent meeting (an online video conference platform) halfway through it, due to malicious reporting.” The statement condemned such malicious reporting that seriously interfered with normal academic exchanges, while reserving the rights to pursue further responsibility.

This is one of many incidents in recent years in China in which academic freedom was attacked by “reporting.”

Yang Shaozheng is a former professor at the School of Economics of Guizhou University. He was discharged from office in 2018 for criticizing the government in class and online. Yang told Voice of America (VOA) that, if the authorities would abide by their own constitution and protect citizens’ freedom of speech, there would not be a market for such malicious reporting. “It is precisely because the constitutional provision of freedom of speech is ignored that anyone who says what the Communist Party thinks is politically incorrect will be punished. As a result, malicious reporting happens everywhere.”

You Shengdong, who is 73-years-old, is a former professor of economics at Xiamen University. In 2018, he was reported and later fired because his classroom lectures were not in line with the Chinese communist ideology. Professor You told VOA that the trend of reporting on Chinese university campuses has been rampant and teachers are worried that they cannot teach freely.

“In the past few years, the political and academic atmosphere in Chinese universities has deteriorated. When teachers are giving lectures, there are cameras recording them and informants watching them. I was reported and other teachers were reported. The situation is getting worse.” “If there is no freedom of speech in a country, especially in universities, how can truth be spread? How can knowledge be taught? How can students be taught? In any country, if it is for the people, then it should allow a hundred flowers to bloom instead of seeing that all speak with one voice.”

It has been reported that many universities even openly recruit informants to keep an eye on the teachers, requiring student informants to report on the teachers who spread superstitious ideas, Western values, and criticism of the principles of the Party.

In addition to professors Yang and You, there is a long list of scholars who have been punished for their words.

Deng Xiangchao, deputy dean of the School of Arts at Shandong Jianzhu University, was disciplined and ordered to retire in 2017 because he re-posted articles critical of Mao Zedong. Deng was also dismissed from all government positions.

Shi Jiepeng, a professor at Beijing Normal University, was dismissed in July 2017 for “erroneous remarks on the Internet” and “crossing the red line of ideological management.”

Tan Song, associate professor at Chongqing Normal University, was expelled from the school and detained by the police in September 2017 for investigating the history of land reform, the anti-rightist movement, the Anti-Japanese War, and the Wenchuan Earthquake, as well as for talking about the 1989 student’s movement in class.

Xu Chuanqing, associate Professor at Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, was reported in September 2017 for blaming students for not taking classes seriously. Xu used Japanese students as role models and predicted that Japan would become a superior nation. In 2018, he was given administrative sanctions.

Zhai Juhong, an associate professor at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, was disciplined. In May 2018, he was expelled from the Party and given an administrative penalty because he criticized Xi Jinping’s constitutional amendments and discussed the institution of China’s National People’s Congress in the classroom.

Wang Gang, an associate professor at Hebei University of Engineering, set up a Wechat group with a focus on civil rights and posted articles that conjectured that China would not embark on the path of constitutional democracy. In July 2018, the school dismissed Wang.

Cheng Ran, a lecturer at Xiangtan University, was demoted because he “quoted a large amount of false information and reports from foreign media” in the classroom and he made remarks that “impaired the image of the Party and state leaders.”

In March 2019, Tang Yun, an associate professor at Chongqing Normal University, had his teacher’s qualification revoked and he was demoted because students reported him for making remarks that harmed the nation’s reputation.

In the famous case of Xu Zhangrun, a professor at Tsinghua University Law School, Xu was suspended in March 2019 for criticizing Xi Jinping’s constitutional amendment, demanding redress of the 1989 student’s movement, and for other remarks.

In April 2019, a student reported Lv Jia, an associate professor at Tsinghua University, for “opposing the Party and violating the constitution.” The Tsinghua communist party discipline organs subsequently put Lv under investigation.

In April 2017, Zi Su, a teacher at the Party School of the Yunnan Provincial Party Committee, suggested that the Chinese Communist Party implement intra-party democracy and asked Xi Jinping to resign. In April 2019, he was arrested, charged with “inciting subversion” and sentenced to 4 years.

Huang Chun, a retired female professor at Guizhou Minzu University, was put under administrative detention for 15 days due to her remarks on Twitter and WeChat about Hong Kong’s anti-extradition law amendment bill movement and the 1989 student’s movement.

Liu Yufu, a teacher at Chengdu University of Technology, was under administrative penalty in October 2019 because of his remarks in class and over the Internet.

Cao Jisheng, a lecturer at Shanxi University of Finance and Economics, was subjected to administrative sanctions and a record of demerit in October 2019 for making “inappropriate remarks” in a WeChat group.

Source: Voice of America, November 17, 2020