In today's China, gong zhi, or "public intellectual", has also become a label that many knowledgeable people try to avoid.

We need to hear more, not less, from our intellectuals

Many of my colleagues and friends know I have two real-life identities - by day I am an editor and journalist with the South China Morning Post, and at weekends I am a student at the University of Hong Kong who hopes to survive a four-year doctoral programme and someday be called Dr. Chen.