BEIJING —William Wan reports: A top Chinese university has decided to remove a politically outspoken professor who has advocated for free speech and democratic reform, prompting concern among U.S. academics. Xia Yeliang said he was notified by Peking University’s School of Economics on Friday that a committee had voted not to renew his contract. Peking University officials did not answer calls to its office Saturday.
Te-Ping Chen reports: Chinese teachers should be on their guard against the infiltration of Western ideas, the country’s education minister says. Also, while they’re at it, they should stop complaining and venting their grievances in front of students as well.
“Mr. Yuan declared that the government ‘absolutely could not allow teachers to whine while teaching, air their resentments or spread negative spirits to their students.’ The report didn’t elaborate on the nature of grumbling that the government was opposed to.”
The minister, Yuan Guiren, made the comments at a conference Thursday at which representatives from some of China’s best universities were assembled. According to Mr. Yuan, as cited by state news agency Xinhua, universities should avoid use of teaching materials that “disseminate Western values.”
As well, Xinhua said, Mr. Yuan declared that the government “absolutely could not allow teachers to whine while teaching, air their resentments or spread negative spirits to their students.” The report didn’t elaborate on the nature of grumbling that the government was opposed to.
“Since assuming office, Chinese President Xi Jinping has actively pushed the study of traditional Chinese culture. Such a push has also come in tandem with a backlash against certain Western traditions, notably Christmas.”
Mr. Yuan’s comments come amid a growing scrutiny of ideology on China’s campuses. Earlier this month, the State Council General Office released an opinion on the need to “further strengthen and improve propaganda and ideology work.” It declared that higher education is a key “battlefield” in the struggle for ideology. Read the rest of this entry »
David Feith writes: The 21st-century romance between America’s universities and China continues to blossom, with New York University opening a Shanghai campus last month and Duke to follow next year. Nearly 100 U.S. campuses host “Confucius Institutes” funded by the Chinese government, and President Obama has set a goal for next year of seeing 100,000 American students studying in the Middle Kingdom. Meanwhile, Peking University last week purged economics professor Xia Yeliang, an outspoken liberal, with hardly a peep of protest from American academics.
“During more than 30 years, no single faculty member has been driven out like this,” Mr. Xia says the day after his sacking from the university, known as China’s best, where he has taught economics since 2000. He’ll be out at the end of the semester. The professor’s case is a window into the Chinese academic world that America’s elite institutions are so eager to join—a world governed not by respect for free inquiry but by the political imperatives of a one-party state. Call it higher education with Chinese characteristics.
“All universities are under the party’s leadership,” Mr. Xia says by telephone from his Beijing home. “In Peking University, the No. 1 leader is not the president. It’s the party secretary of Peking University.”
Which is problematic for a professor loudly advocating political change. In 2008, Mr. Xia was among the original 303 signatories of the Charter 08 manifesto calling for democracy, civil liberties and the rule of law in China. “Our political system continues to produce human rights disasters and social crises,” declared the charter, written primarily by Mr. Xia’s friend Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace laureate who is currently serving an 11-year prison term for “inciting subversion of state power.”
The action caps weeks of persistent rumors that Xia would be dismissed, as well as alarm about the prospect among American scholars, whose universities are increasingly expanding into the lucrative but still politically repressive Chinese market. Read the rest of this entry »
The Peking University Cancer Hospital has set off a scandal by seeking out the blood of virgin females.
A recruitment notice by the hospital to collect blood from healthy virgin volunteers was designed to obtain serum for research on Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Published on campus bulletin board systems at Peking University and Beijing Normal University, the notice said that “To promote the prevention of HPV infection, our group is working on studies of serum antibodies to HPV. We need 100 healthy female college students as blood donors.”
“Any applicant should meet the requirements of being a virgin, and aged between 18 and 24 years old,” the notice also said. Read the rest of this entry »
From Democracy Digest:
Since Xi Jinping came to power just less than a year ago, China Digital Times notes, hopes that his administration would oversee substantial political reform have been dissipating amid frequent crackdowns on the country’s media and developing civil society. An infographic from the South China Morning Post plots arrests under the new administration’s watch to show that state suppression of the politically-liberal is gaining momentum.
The Economist outlines the Communist authorities’ efforts to shape public opinion by treating the Internet as an ideological battlefield:
Protestors carry colonial flags on July 1, 2012. Photo credit: AP/ Vincent Yung.
It was a sight not seen in over 15 years: in the annual July 1st Hong Kong Handover Day protests, the colonial flags of British Hong Kong were hoisted well above the crowd. The reappearance of the “Dragon and the Lion” shocked news outlets around the world.
A former British colony for over 150 years, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region under the People’s Republic of China on July 1st, 1997. Although Hong Kongers have protested annually since the Handover, the protests this year were marked with a noticeably pro-British and anti-PRC sentiment. Mainlanders in Hong Kong have been accused of illegal goods smuggling, giving birth in order to obtain citizenship, and causing inflation.
The increased tensions over the past year between Hong Kong and the Mainland have been fueled by several online videos gone viral. Initially, it was a video of Hong Kongers on the subway confronting Mainland tourists over littering, then it turned personal when a professor from Peking University attacked Hong Kong people on national television…
- Hong Kongers Raise British Flag, Tell Mainlanders to Get Lost (chinasmack.com)
- Hong Kong SAR 15 years on: Is it still Special? (cnn.com)
- Gray Market iPhones Already in Beijing, 70% of Hong Kong Phones Go to Mainland (techinasia.com)
- What images spring to mind when you think of Hong Kong? (eslschoolforenglish.wordpress.com)