iconimg Monday, August 03, 2015

Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times
Beijing, October 19, 2013
An outspoken professor at one of China’s best-known institutions, Peking University, was sacked on Friday apparently because of his liberal views and criticism of the policies of President Xi Jinping and other top leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Professor Xia Yeliang was handed out a slip of paper by the University’s Personnel Evaluation and Employment Committee that simply said that he didn’t get the required votes at a meeting held -- where he was not present -- to decide his fate earlier in October; only three had to voted in his favour out of 34 while one had abstained.

“No actual reason was given. I had expected this. I want to defend the freedom of speech and thought. I would like to make this sacrifice,” Xia told Hindustan Times on Saturday.

Xia had criticised President Xi on his microblog recently. (The critical blog had been removed immediately and his microblog has also been blocked.)

“Expectation was great from President Xi when he took over. But he likes Mao Zedong’s polices...his (Xi’s) policies have been of regression. I think it is very bad,” Xia, who has been with Peking University since 2000, said.

But Xi wasn’t the only one to be criticised by the professor.

In 2009, he had written an open and critical letter to the then CPC propaganda chief, Liu Yunshan – who is now member of the elite seven-member standing committee of the CPC’s Politburo.

“I had criticised the ideological control, the control of the academic sphere and that of freedom of speech by Liu,” Xia said.

He was also a signatory to the Charter 08, a manifesto of human rights, since its inception in 2008 by nearly 350 Chinese intellectuals and academics.

Xia said the decision to expel him could not have been taken independently by the School of Economics, where he teaches, or by the University.

“The instruction must have come from top leaders. They did not give me a reason (for expulsion). They want to make it sound like academic (the reason for expulsion)...not political.”

The professor said he has been advised by the University not to say that the reason was political as it could further hamper his future prospects.

“I am worried because my wife also works at the University. No other university in China is likely to accept me

While Xia had expectedly gained little support from fellow academics in China, he did receive some backing from the Committee of Concerned Scientists and the Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

That, however, doesn’t make Xia’s future any more certain.