Outspoken Scholar to Leave Peking University

Article excerpt

Xia Yeliang, an economist, believes Peking University made its decision because of his public support for democratization and criticism of the Communist Party.

A politically outspoken Chinese economist, Xia Yeliang, will lose his professorship at Peking University, one of China's most prestigious and internationally prominent schools, after a committee voted to dismiss him, Professor Xia has said. The decision came after months of contention over his future, which his supporters have said reflects the Communist Party's efforts to deter liberal political views on campuses.

Professor Xia said Saturday that the School of Economics at the university notified him on Friday that an evaluation committee had voted on Oct. 11 against renewing his contract, which runs out in late January. The Associated Press previously reported the decision.

"To me, the decision is deeply unreasonable, but there's little I can do," Professor Xia said by telephone. On Friday, he said, "a head of the school told me that if I keep saying to the international media that this is a political case, not an academic one, then my situation will become even worse." He declined to name the faculty leader.

Professor Xia, 53, must now find new work, with virtually no prospect that another Chinese university will dare to employ him.

The decision may complicate Peking University's extensive ties with universities and academics in the United States and elsewhere. Repeated calls to the university's School of Economics and Office of International Relations were not answered Saturday, which was not a working day in China.

China has plenty of academic economists who, like Professor Xia, favor unfettered free markets and see them as allied to liberal democracy. But more than others, Professor Xia has spoken out in support of democratization and against the Communist Party's restrictions. He believes that is why the university decided against him, although, he said, university leaders had not spelled that out in discussions over his impending dismissal. …