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Chinese Professor Suspended for Teaching Constitutionalism

An outspoken law professor was suspended in China from his teaching position for teaching and writing articles about constitutionalism.

In June 2013, Professor Zhang Xuezhong of East China University of Politics and Law in Shanghai published an article entitled “The Origin and Perils of the Anti-constitutionalism Campaign in 2013″ (《2013反宪政逆流的根源及危险》). On August 17, Zhang was notified by the university that his qualifications to teach at school had been revoked. The decision was made by the university’s communist party committee, according to China Change, a human rights website.

“The university made it clear to me that the article was in violation of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, and at the same time, it also violated the teachers’ ethical code,” Zhang explained in a statement via his WeChat account.

Professor Zhong Xuezhong (Pic from Sina Weibo)

Professor Zhong Xuezhong. Photo from Sina Weibo

Chinese newspaper Southern Weekend was heavily censored earlier this year when it called for constitutional rule in China.

Zhang Xuezhong is a high profile liberal in China. In September 2012, Zhang was temporarily suspended for his support for those opposed to the “national education” courses in Hong Kong schools. In May 2013, when the Chinese Communist Party issued an instruction to educational institutions banning the teaching of seven sensitive topics, Zhang was one of the first professors to reveal the issue on popular microblogging site Sina Weibo. The “Seven Speak-Nots” policy prohibits discussion of “universal values, civil society, citizen rights, judicial independence, freedom of the press, past mistakes of the communist party, and the privileged capitalist class” in university settings. Zhang’s Weibo account has since been deleted.

In March 2013, Zhang published a book titled [h] “The New Common Sense—The Nature and Consequences of One-Party Rule.”

Many Weibo users showed support for Zhang and his notion on constitutionalism, yet most comments were soon deleted.

Lawyer Zhang Quan wrote [zh]:

实行人民约法、宪法限政是必要的,这是人类社会发展方向。只有天赋人权,不存在天赋党权。权力没有限制,迟早会出问题。但宪政的方式、进程可以商讨。

It is necessary to implement constitution to limit the government’s power, which is the direction of development of human society. Fundamentally it’s about human rights, not party rights. With unlimited power, sooner or later there will be problems. But the way and process to constitutional rule can be discussed.

 Web user “Lixing Zheren” criticized [zh]:

大学拒绝思想自由、学术自由的精神,意味着一个民族在拒绝文明。但我不客气的说,从张雪忠老师的遭遇和风范中,我们也看到了中国知识分子为利逐言的懦弱。一个学校成千上万名教师和学生,竟然只有一个人如同中世纪的伽利略在抗争!这不是时代和民族的悲哀?

The university’s denial of freedom of thought and the spirit of academic freedom means that a nation is in denial of civilization. I can bluntly say that from Professor Zhang Xuezhong’s experience, Chinese intellectuals have showed their cowardice because for a school of thousands of teachers and students, there’s only one man fighting like Galileo in the Middle Ages! Isn't it the tragedy of the times and the nation?

Web user “Wang Dongcheng” echoed [zh] the same sentiment:

对于大学教师来说,“独立之思想,自由之精神”就是师德。张雪忠的言行,说明他有良好的师德。现下的高校讲台上发清声者本来就不多,因此就愈显张雪忠之宝贵。

For university teachers, the ethical code is ”independence of thought and freedom of spirit”. Zhang Xuezhong's words and deeds showed that he has followed the ethics. At a time when not many university lectures voice their real opinions, Zhang Xuezhong is in particular valuable.

  • ppeters602

    Is it fair for people to be suspended for raising their opinion on any subject? The professor seem be at the wrong country from what one can read. This article reminds me of articles I read about Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II on the ideas he has for Africa and West Africa on constitutional monarchy. He argues that the constitutional monarchy is a system that will bring about many positive changes for the countries, whereby there will be freedom of expression, accountability and economic development for Africa. A system whereby no individual will be shut down just because his ideas and beliefs do not sit down well with certain individuals, like what happened to professor Zhong Xuezhong.

    LEOPOLD DONCHIELD ZU LEONE II

    Could the European Success on Constitutional Monarchy be effective in African Continent?

    I have been reading an article on constitutional monarchy and the monarchist views of Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II by Michael Jones. He explains the constitutional monarchy as follow: A constitutional monarchy is the form of a government in which a monarch is the head of state, but unlike in an absolute monarchy, not the only or even the main source of political power. Political power is vested in the head of the government who is elected by common
    citizens. Apart from the 16 commonwealth realms, there are 21 constitutional monarchies. There are 2 constitutional monarchies in Africa, 8 in Asia, 10 in Europe and 1 in Oceania. Michael Jones also outlines the ideas shared by Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II on the role of constitutional monarchy in Africa.

    Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II has the belief that for the constitutional monarchy to successfully work in Africa, it is paramount for African leaders to analyse what worked on those European dynasties with a proven record on constitutional monarchy. Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II believes that most African countries do have the history of being run under this system prior independence even though with limited powers then. The same system could work for Africans with them having full control of power, drawing experiences and examples from the success of the European constitutional monarchy system.

    Michael Jones writes that history is in favour of Africa and he refers to the writers of yester-years, like Walter Bagehot and his philosophies on constitutional monarchy, still applicable today.
    What’s your thoughts on these views?
    http://www.leopolddonchieldzuleoneii.wordpress.com
    http://www.leopoldzuleoneii.wordpress.com

  • pfcwms

    He was fired for not toeing the Party line and refusing to recant.

  • Pingback: Censorship, Prosecution Drive Exodus of Opinion Leaders from China’s Sina Weibo - Global Voices Advocacy

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