From China Digital Space
Xǔ Zhāngrùn 许章润
Xu Zhangrun is an influential legal scholar, a former professor of law at Tsinghua University. In recent years, Xu became a vocal critic of the Chinese Communist Party and its leader Xi Jinping. In 2020, Xu was detained by Beijing authorities and accused of prostitution, and was later dismissed from Tsinghua University.
Xu obtained his bachelor’s degree in law from Southwest University of Political Science and Law, one of China’s prominent legal institutions, after which he continued his studies at the China University of Political Science and Law. Upon finishing his doctorate from the University of Melbourne in Australia, Xu returned to China in 2000 and began teaching at Tsinghua University. In 2005, Xu was recognized as one of ten leading young legal scholars in China by China Law Society, a government-sponsored organization of legal academia.
In recent years, Xu published many essays offering stark criticism of Chinese politics and society. In particular, he expressed concerns over the lack of opposition to Xi Jinping’s “one-man rule.” In July 2018, he published an essay Imminent Fears, Immediate Hopes in which he offered scathing criticism of the policy shifts under Xi Jinping, including the abolition of term limits and what he perceived as the restoration of a cult of personality. The essay was widely circulated online despite strict censorship, making him one of the lone public dissenters in Mainland China. In 2019, Xu was suspended by Tsinghua University.
After the outbreak of the COVID-19, he criticized Chinese government’s handling of the pandemic, including its suppression of information and punishment of whistleblowers. Discussion of Xu Zhangrun has been heavily censored on Chinese social media. In July 2020, he was taken away from his home for “hiring a prostitute” and put under “administrative detention” for 7 days. He was subsequently dismissed from Tsinghua University.
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