Minitrue: Stop Resurgence of Campus Harassment Issue

Minitrue: Stop Resurgence of Campus Harassment Issue

The following censorship 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.

Delete the article "She Once Thought She Could Escape The Professor’s Hand." Do not allow the issue of sexual harassment in higher education to become inflamed again. (July 9) [Chinese]

The targeted article, which has been deleted from its original source, WeChat, and Douban, details accusations of sexual harassment from at least six women by Zhang Peng, a primatologist at Guangdong’s Sun Yat-sen University. Its title remains searchable on Weibo, where a copy of the full text survives for now, but the archive of deleted posts at FreeWeibo indicates some censorship on the platform. Sixth Tone’s Fan Liya sums up the article’s content and context:

According to an article published by nonfiction platform The Livings on Sunday, ecology professor Zhang Peng had been given “a disciplinary punishment within the Party” in April after a freshman student accused him of sexual assault. Then in May, five more women — four students and a colleague — came forward with further allegations of misconduct during field trips, thesis consultations, and work activities, dating back years.

[…] According to Chen [Jing, a pseudonym for one of the students], school representatives then spoke to the accusers and Zhang, but Zhang denied all the allegations. After two months without a response, SYSU graduate Chen Hanyuan — a friend of Chen Jing’s — alerted media outlets to the case with the consent of the accusers.

“I was afraid that the school wanted to drag out the case, so I thought we should make the school pay attention by exposing the case to the media,” Chen Hanyuan told Sixth Tone.

[…] Over 100 SYSU graduates and other university students signed an open letter published Monday that urged the school to investigate the allegations against Zhang. [Source]

The university announced on Tuesday that Zhang had been stripped of his teaching duties.

Prospects for a Chinese #MeToo movement were widely seen as dim at the start of the year. The previous inflammation alluded to in the directive peaked later, in April, when eight Peking University students fought for the release of official school records regarding the 1998 suicide of a student who had allegedly been raped by a former professor. University authorities’ heavy-handed retaliation against outspoken student Yue Xin, which she described in an open letter translated by CDT, led to an exceptional eruption of popular support and a subsequent backlash from censors. In addition to Yue Xin’s two open letters and a related censorship directive, CDT also translated an earlier essay in which Yue explained the origins of her sense of social responsibility.

真Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. Some instructions are issued by local authorities or to specific sectors, and may not apply universally across China. 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. See CDT’s collection of Directives from the Ministry of Truth since 2011.


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