Outspoken law scholar stripped of Tsinghua duties

China's top university has reportedly taken action against Xu Zhangrun, who called for government accountability

July 14, 2020
Students biking in front of the main entrance of the famous Tsinghua University building in Beijing
Source: iStock

Xu Zhangrun, a constitutional law scholar who has been at odds with the Chinese authorities for several years, has been removed from his teaching position at Tsinghua University and from other public positions, according to regional media reports.

Professor Xu told Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), the city’s public broadcaster, that he had been punished for “corrupted morals” and would not appeal the decision. He said he would accept his punishment and had no future plans.

The reported actions by the university come after two weeks of drama surrounding the academic, who had published essays and signed open letters critical of the government, particularly its early response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

On 6 July, more than a dozen police officers reportedly took Professor Xu, along with his computer and papers, from his home. On 12 July, he was released from detention after being accused of involvement in prostitution, a charge that critics have said sounded trumped up. Two days later, he was reportedly removed from his university post.

Zhang Ming, a professor at Renmin University, told the South China Morning Post that the authorities “lacked credibility” on the prostitution charge. “The public didn’t believe Xu would do that, so it was difficult for them to continue with the case,” he said.  

Wu Qiang, a Chinese political commentator, was quoted by RTHK as saying that he suspected the police “framed” Professor Xu with the charge so the university could remove him.

Tsinghua, China’s top-ranked university, has suspended and investigated Professor Xu before. It did not respond immediately to queries about whether Professor Xu was still on its faculty. 

joyce.lau@timeshighereducation.com 

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Reader's comments (1)

Unsurprising, Academic Freedom is a victim of the lefts ideology the world over, like all left wing authoritarians they suppress by force as they cannot/will not discuss or debate openly or honestly.

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