SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: March 07, 2014

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):University of Kobe

Region & Country:Eastern Asia | China

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Japan-based Professor Wang Ke was detained for 17 days by police in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, during a research trip to China.  Professor Wang is a Chinese-born professor of modern Chinese political thought at the Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, University of Kobe. He specializes in modern Chinese philosophical history and is known for his prize-winning research on ethnic Uighurs in China.

During what was initially planned to be a 10-day trip to China, Professor Wang visited Quanzhou, to interview Muslim minorities beginning on March 3. He was taken into custody on March 7.  The professor was released on the morning of March 24 after police decided not to indict him.  At a subsequent press conference held by the University of Kobe, Professor Wang stated, “I was questioned for my activities in connection with my research which violated the law in China.”  He stated that he could not answer questions regarding the details of the police questioning but indicated that he “did not suffer any physical abuse” during his detention.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of a professor, apparently as a result of nonviolent scholarly activity. State officials have a responsibility to protect academic freedom and not to interfere with scholars’ right to conduct research, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. Detention and interrogation aimed at intimidating researchers and limiting research undermines academic freedom and higher education quality.