11/21/14, "Chinese state media give profs a chilling warning," AP via Washington Post
"Over two weeks, the Communist Party-run Liaoning Daily
newspaper sent reporters to sit in on dozens of university lectures all
over the country looking for what the paper said were professors “being
scornful of China.”
During visits to more than 20
schools, the regional paper wrote last week, it found exactly what it
said it was looking for: Some professors compared Mao Zedong, first
leader of China’s communist government, to ancient emperors, a blasphemy
to party ideology upholding Mao as a break from the country’s feudal
past. Other scholars were caught pointing out the party’s failures after
taking power in 1949. Some repeatedly praised “Western” ideas such as a
separation of powers in government.
“Dear teachers, because your profession demands something
higher of you, and because of the solemnity and particularity of the
university classroom, please do not speak this way about China!”
implored the article, since widely distributed on social media
Chinese professors have long endured
monitoring and some degree of political interference, but this kind of
public shaming was unprecedented in China’s recent history, said Zhang
Wen, a journalism professor at the University of Science and Technology
Beijing. For some, it evokes memories of the bloody political purges of
the Cultural Revolution 40 years ago.
taking power last year, President Xi Jinping’s government has tightened
controls over a wide range of society, from artists to churches. And
while academics have traditionally been held up as respected voices of
authority in Chinese society, many view the public investigation as an
order to watch what they say in classrooms, Zhang said.
“I think this is a very bad thing,” he said. “Teachers need some
freedom to interpret facts. If not, why have teachers then? Students can
just read books. I think this is definitely a warning to us.”
months after Xi took power last year, Chinese authorities outlined
seven topics that professors shouldn’t talk about in their classes,
including judicial independence, civil society and the wealth of
government officials, according to Xia Yeliang, a former Peking
University economics professor who was fired last year for supporting
democratic reforms in China.
In addition to Xia, at
least two other Beijing-based professors have been disciplined for their
teachings about sensitive topics such as the Arab Spring uprisings and
constitutionalism in China, Zhang said.
professor Ilham Tohti was even sentenced to life in prison in September
on separatism charges in part for championing the rights of the
country’s Muslim Uighur minority during his lectures at Minzu University
in Beijing. That sentence was upheld by a higher court Friday.
“I don't think there's any question we're in the midst of a renewed crackdown on dissent,” said David Bandurski, a researcher at the
University of Hong Kong-based China Media Project, which studies the
practice of journalism in the country. “It seems there is a broader
attempt to limit discussion on a whole range of issues in academia and
in the press that the party regards as sensitive.”
growing pressure hits as several U.S. universities, including Duke and
Stanford, open campuses in China, hoping to tap into the country’s
enormous and growing pool of students.
Last year, more than 130 faculty members at Wellesley
College in Massachusetts signed a letter warning that firing Xia would
jeopardize a new academic partnership between the college and Peking
Several U.S. institutions, including the
University of Chicago and Penn State, have ended their relationships
with the Chinese government-run Confucius Institute, which has opened
branches in hundreds of universities and schools around the world. U.S.
professors have complained that instructors at the institutes have
promoted a rosy, state-approved vision of China and are trained to avoid
discussion of sensitive subjects such as Tibet and the 1989 massacre of
pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Lincoln, a University of Chicago religious studies professor, said he
and others there objected to the Confucius Institute independently
running its program and offering classes for school credit.
“If they’re partnering with an American university and ... are
supplying the teachers and the curriculum, and the university calls it
one of their courses, I think something terrible is going on,” Lincoln
said. “It’s as if we let the tobacco industry offer its course in health
In China, the Liaoning Daily article has
also sparked furious debate on Chinese social media about the need for
intellectual autonomy versus patriotism in academia.
Ming, a politics professor at Renmin University in Beijing, noted in a
rebuttal that the story doesn’t cite specific professors or schools,
only saying reporters visited classrooms in Beijing, Shanghai and three
other cities, during which “they listened to nearly 100 expert classes.”
“They didn’t say who said what, they just said the problem was big,” Zhang said. “It’s a very strange thing.”
Chinese professors asked why the story came out in a northeast Chinese
branch of state media rather than the People’s Daily or another national
publication. Liaoning Daily declined Thursday to comment on their
In its article, the paper said it was responding
to reports that many professors were “blackening” the country in their
“We felt we had to write this open letter so
that our teachers could better consider questions like these: How should
China be taught objectively and accurately in the classroom?” the
“How can students be taught all at once with expert
knowledge and a bright attitude?”
According to Xia, now a
visiting fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian U.S. think tank,
the article showed the Chinese government was no longer hiding what had
always been private or unspoken pressure on academics. It was an
unmistakable move by the government, he said, to rein in public
discourse in a corner of Chinese society that has up until now enjoyed
“The way they’re doing it, they’re trying
to terrorize Chinese academics,” Xia said. “This is like in the
Cultural Revolution. If you have foreign connections, they can say
you’re anti-Chinese. They can treat you like enemies.”"
News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.
Friday, November 21, 2014
Chinese Communist gov. of trusted Obama 'CO2 partner' Xi Jinping sends reporters to spy on college profs to ensure no talk of why gov. officials are so rich, etc. Pressure comes as US universities such as Duke and Stanford open China campuses-AP
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