Minitrue: Professor Punished for “Extreme Posts”

The following instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

Websites are not permitted to hype the story of the deputy department chair at a Guangdong university who was dismissed for publishing extreme blog posts. Please remove it from the lead story position. (November 12, 2015) [Chinese]

Liang Xinsheng has been removed from his post as deputy chair of the English department at Lingnan Normal University in Guangdong because of the “extreme” opinions in some of his Weibo posts. Zhuang Pinghui reports for the South China Morning Post:

The posts by Liang, who remains a professor, were made between 2012 and 2014 and Liang had also violated “political discipline and rules” in July, the commission said, but it did not specify what the posts had said. The posts have been taken down.

[…] Last month the party amended its disciplinary rules to add such offences as vilifying party leaders, distorting party history, making inappropriate comments and challenging policies.

Ma Senshu, a senior party official with the Central Commission of Discipline Inspection who was involved in amending the rules, had previously warned that open discussion of party policies by officials had severe consequences. He said it “destroys the party’s unity and solidarity, and prevents party policies from being thoroughly implemented”. [Source]

The CCP’s “Standards on Integrity and Self Restraint,” made public last month, warn that Party members are not to “improperly discuss the fundamental policies of the central government and violate the unity of the Party.” The new rule has also been used against former Xinjiang Daily editor Zhao Xinwei, who publicly criticized policy in Xinjiang.

Liang’s account has been gutted, but he has apparently released a statement online explaining the small politics behind his situation:

Dear friends: This is Liang Xinsheng. Don’t worry, I’m fine. This whole thing is because of competition for the position of departmental deputy chair. After several failures, my rival for the post went nuts and retaliated by reporting some of my Weibo posts which critique social issues. I have always strived to be clean. I have my own demands and my own bottom line, and I know what kind of educator I am. Thank you to everyone for your concern. I wish you all the best! [Chinese]

The pressure on Chinese academics to tow the Party line has alarmed some of their foreign colleagues, Tom Philips writes in The Guardian:

In a recent interview, Tim Cheek, author of The Intellectual in Modern Chinese History, said the situation had deteriorated so much that he recently asked a Chinese colleague if they wanted help arranging a visiting scholarship overseas “to stay out of the storm”.

He said the academic replied: “Well, not now, but maybe later. If Xi Jinping sorts out his competitors, after the 19th party conference [in 2017] there will be a rectification.” [Source]

While academics in China are under increasing scrutiny for espousing “Western values,” the State Council has announced a plan to create a number of “world-class” universities and programs in the next five years.

真Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source.