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 20, 2019

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Chongqing Normal University

Region & Country:Eastern Asia | China

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 20, 2019, Chongqing Normal University (CNU) reportedly demoted associate professor Tang Yun and revoked his teaching credentials, apparently in retaliation for alleged comments he made during a lecture.

Sources indicate that Tang’s alleged comments were made during a course on Lu Xun, a prominent revolutionary author from the early twentieth century. Sources do not specify Tang’s alleged remarks.

At least one source suggests that students had reported Tang’s comments to university officials; however, this has not been confirmed.

CNU officials have not provided public comment on the situation, but the university reportedly issued a directive that stating that Tang comments were “injurious to the country’s reputation” and accusing Tang of being “a bad influence.” Tang was reportedly given the title of associate professor at CNU in 1997.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of disciplinary measures to retaliate against a scholar exercising the right to academic freedom—conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory. University authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with academic freedom or expressive activity, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. Retaliation intended to punish such expressive activity undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.

UPDATE: On May 20, 2019, CNU reportedly transferred Tang to the university library to “work in other professional technical posts.”