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: August 15, 2018

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Guizhou University

Region & Country:Eastern Asia | China

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On August 15, 2018, Guizhou University reportedly expelled economics professor Yang Shaozheng in apparent retaliation for “politically sensitive” academic writings.

According to the NGO China Change, Guizhou University expelled Professor Yang for “long-running publication and spreading online of politically mistaken speech, writing a large number of politically harmful articles, and creating a deleterious influence on campus and in society.”

In his academic work and related public expression, Professor Yang, a faculty at Guizhou University for eleven years, has been critical of the Chinese Communist Party. This includes most notably an article he wrote in October 2017 in which he raised questions over the economic costs of maintaining the CCP. Police in Guizhou reportedly questioned Professor Yang about the article, which he submitted to at least two potential publishers. Following the article’s publication by a New York-based media outlet, the university reportedly indefinitely suspended Professor Yang from his teaching and advising responsibilities. Professor Yang appealed the university’s decision; however, he was ultimately expelled on August 15, 2018. His expulsion was reportedly upheld following a second appeal by Professor Yang.

In addition to his suspension and expulsion, Professor Yang’s social media accounts were reportedly shut down.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the suspension and expulsion of a scholar in apparent retaliation for his peaceful exercise of the rights to academic freedom and freedom of expression — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory. State and university authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with expressive activity, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. Disciplinary retaliation intended to punish such expressive activity harms academic freedom and democratic society generally.