On March 8, 2023, officials at the Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics suspended Chen Saibin, a lecturer in the university’s School of Economics and Management, for remarks that he allegedly made during lectures.
The university’s Communist Party committee announced his suspension and an investigation into Chen after students posted his comments over social media. Chen allegedly made comments about China being dependent on food imports from the United States and Europe and other alleged remarks considered to be pro-United States or pro-Western society.
The party committee said that “Social media posts currently circulating about a lecturer from this university who made inappropriate remarks have prompted concern and public debate,” according to a statement reported by Radio Free Asia. The same report also noted the university saying that “it had a zero-tolerance policy towards ‘moral misconduct’ among faculty.”
As of early April 2023, SAR has not found publicly reported updates on Chen’s status.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about reports of a higher education institution, apparently under the instruction of a political body, suspending a scholar over alleged remarks made during lectures. Higher education authorities should refrain from such disciplinary actions, reject political interference, and uphold strong due process standards for faculty. Politically-motivated suspensions in response to a scholar’s alleged expressive activity undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.