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: January 05, 2017

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Shandong Jianzhu University

Region & Country:Eastern Asia | China

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 5, 2017, Shandong Jianzhu University (SJU) reportedly dismissed art professor Deng Xiaochao, apparently in retaliation for a social media post.

On December 26, 2016, Professor Deng reportedly posted comments over social media website Weibo that suggested Chairman Mao Zedong was responsible for war and famine that resulted in the deaths of millions of people. The post was deleted; however, a screenshot was circulated, quickly resulting in a protest and calls for Professor Deng to be removed from his government and university positions.

On January 5, 2017, Professor Deng was reportedly forced to retire from his position as deputy head of the SJU’s art department, and barred from on- and off-campus teaching activities. He was also removed from his seat on the Shandong Provincial Committee, and fired from his role as provincial counselor.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the dismissal of a scholar in apparent retaliation for nonviolent expression. State and university authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with the exercise of the rights to academic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of association, so long as those activities are undertaken peacefully and responsibly. Retaliatory disciplinary actions aimed at limiting such activities harm academic freedom and related values including university autonomy.