Chinese Students Inform On Professor (Updated)
Update: The following excerpt is from bbs.163.com (Updated on PST 9:30 am December 1, 2008 : the post is already being deleted from the netease portal, however, many more Chinese blog posts on this topic can be found here and here,) translated by CDT’s Linjun Fan:
A blog article titled “My Student Reported Me as a Counterrevolutionary” appeared on various online forums and roused great controversy recently. The article was written by Yang Shiqun (杨师群), a college teacher in Huadong University of Politics and Law in Shanghai. Yang revealed through the article on his blog that he was being investigated by the police after two students reported to the authorities that he had criticized the government in class. The original article has been deleted from Yang’s blog. However, lots of people have posted comments on the incident and supported Yang’s right to freedom of speech.
A similar incident happened in 2005. Lu Xuesong, a young teacher at Jilin Art College was dismissed from her teaching position after she discussed a politically-sensitive documentary film with her students. After she showed the banned film, In Search of the Spirit of Lin Zhao, some students reported it to the authorities, which resulted in Lu’s dismissal. Some people commented that such an incident took place only in small cities where people are less open-minded, and optimistically claimed that the outcome would have been different if it took place in a major university at a big city. However, a similar incident happened again, and this time, in the large metropolis of Shanghai.
Professor Yang Shiqun posted the above-mentioned blog article on Nov. 21, in which he wrote:
“My boss had a talk with me today. He said that I had been put on the record and investigated by the police, because two students of mine had reported to them and the Education Department that I had criticized the government in class. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the news. The college students still have the mindset of the Great Cultural Revolution times and went out of their way to accuse their teacher of being a counterrevolutionary. How deplorable!
In my class on Ancient Chinese Language, I would sometimes criticize China’s traditional culture, when it’s related to the text I was teaching. I would also criticize the government when I teach a topic that’s relevant to contemporary affairs.
I remembered two female students talked to me after class one day. They rebuked me indignantly for my criticism of the Chinese culture, and my criticism of the government, with tears in their eyes. I respect the students’ passionate love for the Chinese culture and the Chinese government. I think they have the right to feel this way. However, I also have the right to criticize Chinese culture and government. So I told them that I had the right to express my opinions, and they could choose not to take my class in the future if they were dissatisfied. I didn’t expect that they would go to the authorities to report on me and make baseless accusations against me. I was really surprised.”
A number of incidents have taken place in China in recent years during which an individual was persecuted for criticizing government officials… They usually took place in underdeveloped regions where people’s awareness of rule of law is relatively low. Because freedom of speech is a civil right protected by the Constitution of People’s Republic of China, the injustice toward the individuals got redressed immediately after the incidents were exposed by the media to the public. The officials who conducted the persecution were usually dismissed. Zhang Zhiguo, the party secretary of Xifeng County of Liaoning Province, was dismissed after he sent police to Beijing to detain a reporter who exposed his wrongdoings. It’s reported that he was appointed recently as the deputy director of the Traffic Engineering Office of the Shentie Railway Project. After the news caught the public’s attention, the local party commission made a public announcement on Nov. 26 that the nomination was proposed by an individual official and that it had already been nullified.
It shows that both the government and the citizens have gradually realized that the civil right of freedom of speech can not be violated at will.
CMP wrote recently about some limited discussion in China’s media about a number of recent cases in which Chinese citizens have “incurred guilt through their words.” This week, in the latest instance of this basic violation of China’s constitutionally guaranteed right to “freedom of expression,” a professor at Shanghai’s East China University of Political Science and Law is reportedly under investigation after his students reported him to local police for alleged anti-government views. [Frontpage Image: “Cultural Revolution for sale” by El Freddy available at Flickr under Creative Commons license.]
In an editorial on page A31 of today’s Southern Metropolis Daily, Wang Xiaoyu (王晓渔) reflects on the Yang Shiqun (杨师群) case and its significance.
Update: Professor Yang’s original blog post on November 21, 2008 is also disappeared from his blog, but a cached photo is here: