POLITICS

Zhang Xuezhong, pro-democracy activist, sacked by university

Law lecturer Zhang Xuezhong fired after he wrote articles calling for elections and an end to Communist Party's dominance in politics

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 December, 2013, 1:33pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 December, 2013, 4:29am

A prominent legal scholar has been fired after he published articles criticising the mainland's political system and calling for greater civil rights.

Zhang Xuezhong, a lecturer at the law school of the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, said he received a verbal notice from the law school head that his contract would be terminated at the end of December.

"He told me that they had decided to let me go because I still hadn't acknowledged my mistakes after a long period of being banned from teaching," Zhang said. "A final order from the university will come in days."

The president of the university, He Qinhua, declined to comment.

Zhang has been barred from teaching since mid-August after the university said it found he had published articles and books which were "in violation of laws on teachers' behaviour".

One of the articles he published was about the danger of not upholding China's constitution.

Zhang protested against the decision. "This is political persecution of a teacher who expresses his thoughts publicly. It will become not only a serious public event, but also be written in shame into the history books," he said.

Zhang has published a book online, New Common Sense, in which he questioned the legal legitimacy of the governing Communist Party. He has also published several articles calling for more civil rights for Chinese people and for the speeding up of political reform.

Zhang wrote an open letter in May to the minister of education, Yuan Guiren , calling for an end to classes and tests on Marxism at universities. His call went unanswered.

The propaganda ministry issued orders in May telling universities to adopt stricter ideological control over teachers.

Xia Yeliang, an outspoken economics professor at Peking University, was fired earlier this year.

"I still have some articles to be finished. In the future, I will continue doing what I did before, not only on paper, but also in practice," Zhang said.

In an interview with the Sunday Morning Post in 2011, Zhang said Marxism was too dogmatic and its dominance of political life on the mainland should be brought to an end.

He also called for elections to be introduced to stop a minority of people on the mainland "dominating and abusing power".

The instability and divisions in China were all due to one-party rule, he said.

He also dismissed suggestions education on the mainland was not robust enough to have a fully informed electorate and that democracy was impractical.