WHAT THE MAINLAND MEDIA SAY

Peking University professor's 'lechery' post goes viral

Peking U. professor's allegation about 'lechers' victimising waitresses instantly picked over by press

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 August, 2012, 4:47am

Professor Zou Hengfu, a mainland economist, has demonstrated the truth behind the Chinese idiom "evil deeds spread a thousand miles".

In just two days, a microblog entry he wrote last Tuesday alleging that Peking University academics had been forcing themselves on waitresses at a campus restaurant was reposted more than 71,000 times and received 18,767 comments.

Zou wrote that faculty deans at Beida, Peking University's nickname, preyed on pretty waitresses at a university restaurant called Mengtaoyuan, Dream of Peach Yard, without elaborating.

"Other Beida department heads and professors are no exception, which could explain why business at the restaurant is so good … there are too many lechers at Beida," he added.

His post has triggered heated discussions among internet users and in the traditional media, with some questioning Zou's credibility and accusing him of acting irresponsibly.

Others have urged university authorities to take such allegations seriously or to take Zou to court to defend Beida's reputation.

Zou went on to post entries blasting the university for the many lavish entertainment facilities built on campus and injustice he suffered while teaching there before 2007.

The Beijing Morning Post quoted Peking University spokesman Jiang Langlang on Wednesday as saying that Zou's comments were unfounded and irresponsible.

"Maybe he still holds a grudge towards the university because Beida didn't extend his contract a few years ago," Jiang said, adding that it reserved the right to sue Zou for libel.

The newspaper reported that the university decided not to extend Zou's contract in August 2007 because he failed to comply with attendance requirements. But Zou claimed that his dismissal was the result of a purge instigated by Zhang Weiying , dean of the university's Guanghua School of Management, after he wrote an open letter to the Ministry of Education about mismanagement at the school.

On Thursday, a commentary in the China Youth Daily accused Zou of a smear campaign.

"It's not a matter of whether the professor should blow the whistle but a matter of whether he demonstrated due responsibility," it said.

The Global Times said the controversy underscored how microblogs had become a double-edged sword - providing the public with an unprecedented platform for free expression but also a place for unfettered rumour-mongering and personal attacks.

However, the Guangzhou Daily said on Thursday that in the face of Zou's aggressive comments, the university's responses fell far short of easing public concerns. "Instead of threatening to launch a lawsuit against the professor, Beida authorities should go into action to save its reputation and the integrity of academics in general," it said. "And a police investigation is needed, because the faculty deans are already criminal suspects if rape allegations are true."

Peking University, one of the most prestigious on the mainland, has been hit by a spate of scandals in recent years, adding to public dismay over the declining morals of mainland academics.

Beida professor Wang Xueming made national headlines after a young woman from Yunnan province with whom he had an extramarital affair for two years was detained in 2009 for extorting money from him after he failed to help her gain admission to the university, as promised.

The Qilu Evening News said the dispute between Zou and Beida had attracted so much public attention because it had social significance amid broader concerns over the morality and credibility of academics at the university.

It said Beida must show caution and objectivity to protect its reputation.

raymond.li@scmp.com