In April 2018, officials at the Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture revoked teaching qualifications of Xu Chuanqing, a professor of mathematics, in apparent retaliation for comments she made during class in September 2017.
One of Professor Xu’s students reportedly told university officials that the professor commented during class that Chinese people were inferior to the Japanese. Students had also reportedly described the incident over social media, which resulted in many comments condemning Professor Xu. The university’s Communist Party Committee revoked Professor Xu’s teaching qualifications and party membership in response to the students’ allegations.
Professor Xu disputes the student’s report, claiming that the student had taken her comments out of context. According to the professor, as her students were not performing well in class, she cited an example of a studious Japanese student and commented that Japan would surpass China if the students did not improve their studies.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about disciplinary actions against a scholar in apparent retaliation for academic conduct and peaceful exercise of the right to free expression during class. State and university authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with academic freedom or expressive activity, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. Professional retaliation intended to punish such expressive activity harms academic freedom and related higher education values including university autonomy and social responsibility.