A law professor who lost his job at one of China’s top universities after his fierce criticism of the Communist Party has been offered a research position at Harvard University.
Former Tsinghua University professor Xu Zhangrun has been appointed an associate in research at Harvard’s Fairbank Centre for Chinese Studies for the 2020-21 academic year.
The centre sent a letter to Xu on August 13, inviting him to serve as a research fellow for one year from July 1 but Xu has been banned from leaving China.
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“I can’t get out. Harvard’s appointment is symbolic,” he said.
In a letter of thanks to Harvard, Xu said the position was an honour and encouraged an independent, freethinking and unyielding academic spirit.
He said China had benefited from the reform and opening up that started in 1978, but “it is difficult for the authorities to change the nature of totalitarianism”.
Xu said he was angry about his dismissal from Tsinghua but “you will never be able to silence all of the poets who evoke the desolate beauty of autumn”.
“This is more true now than ever before, since the people may choose to cast aside their fear,” Xu said.
Fairbank Centre director Michael Szonyi said the centre had great respect for Xu’s academic work.
“We thought it appropriate to make a gesture of support in light of recent developments, and therefore invited him to apply for affiliation with us,” Szonyi said.
Xu, 57, has written a series of articles criticising the authorities in recent years, taking aim at party leaders over the decision to lift the two-term limit for presidents and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
He was dismissed from Tsinghua in early July for “moral turpitude” after police accused him of soliciting prostitutes and detained him for about a week.
The university then accused him of publishing numerous articles since mid-2018 that “seriously violated” a code of conduct for university faculty.
Xu is considering an appeal against the authorities’ decision to punish him.
He said he did not solicit prostitutes and the police had not produced any evidence to support their claim.
After receiving the offer from the Fairbank Centre, Xu also received a “Notice of Unemployed Person” from the committee of his neighbourhood on Wednesday. According to the notice, Xu is required to attend vocational guidance training at the committee’s office next week.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Chinese professor known for challenging the party leadership sacked by university
- Chinese Communist Party critic Xu Zhangrun released after week in detention, sources say
- Chinese 709 rights lawyer Xie Yang loses professional licence
This article Chinese Communist Party critic Xu Zhangrun offered Harvard University research post first appeared on South China Morning Post