Chinese professor known for challenging the party leadership sacked by university

·3-min read

An outspoken Chinese law professor who is well known for publicly challenging the party leadership has been formally notified that he has been fired for his writings.

The notification, dated on Wednesday, was sent to Xu Zhangrun by courier on Saturday, according to a friend who requested anonymity for fear of retribution.

Tsinghua University, where Xu, 57 has worked for 20 years, said it made the decision after a meeting on July 10.

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Xu, a prominent legal scholar, is one of the very few academics to have publicly challenged the party leadership in recent years in a number of essays published online in China and overseas.

“We have verified that Xu Zhangrun has published many essays since July 2018 and it is a serious violation of the ‘10 standards of professional conduct for teachers in tertiary institutes in the new era’,” the notification read.

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The guidelines, issued by the Ministry of Education in 2018, said teachers would be fired or punished if they said or did anything that undermines the authority of the Communist Party or violated the directions and policies of the party.

They also say teachers have to be patriotic and uphold academic integrity.

The university also cited the detention of Xu two weeks ago as a reason for firing him.

Xu was taken away by Chengdu police from his Beijing home on July 6. At the time, the police told Xu’s wife that he had been arrested for soliciting prostitutes when he was travelling to the capital of Sichuan province, a claim dismissed by Xu’s friends as an attempt to discredit him.

Xu was released last Sunday and returned home after six days of detention.

In July 2108, Xu published his first criticism of the Communist Party leadership, which included one of the few public statements opposing the removal of presidential term limits, which will allow Xi Jinping to stay in the post after 2023.

Outspoken Chinese law professor Xu Zhangrun taken away by police, friends say

Xu was suspended from teaching by Tsinghua in 2019, but he continued to write essays critical of the party leadership.

In February and May this year, Xu published two lengthy articles openly criticising the leadership for mishandling the coronavirus.

Using satire and a mixture of modern and classical Chinese, Xu lamented how the country was isolated and how the public were gagged by fear and big data surveillance. He has also published a number of shorter essays in recent months.

The university told Xu that if he wanted to appeal against the sacking, he would have to go to the Ministry of Education and Beijing education commission.

Xu cannot be reached for comments.

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