On September 1, 2018, Prof. Zhou Yun-Zhong, an assistant professor of History at Xiamen University, was dismissed from his position in retaliation for comments he posted on the micro-blogging site Weibo on July 2, 2018.
In the post, which was published under the pseudonym “Donghai Dao Zi”, Professor Zhou expressed views critical of Chinese society, claiming that China was an “inferior nation,” and belittling China’s historical achievements.
On September 1, Xiamen University announced Prof. Zhou’s dismissal on its official website, saying that he was fired for “distorting Chinese historical reality, harming the image of the Party and the country, hurting the feeling of the Chinese people, crossing the red line of teachers’ ethics and work style, and exerting a bad influence on society.”
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the termination of a scholar in retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression — conduct which is explicitly protected under international human right instruments, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In addition to the harm to immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally. Universities have a responsibility to refrain from wrongful disciplinary action in retaliation for nonviolent actions of expression.