Taiwan's top officials voice support for suspended Chinese professor

04/06/2019 07:38 PM
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MAC Minister Chen Ming-tong
MAC Minister Chen Ming-tong

Taipei, April 6 (CNA) Two of Taiwan's highest-ranking officials on Saturday expressed support for a Chinese professor who was suspended this month after openly criticizing Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).

Xu Zhangrun (許章潤), a law professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing was suspended after writing several articles criticizing the Chinese government, among them an essay titled "Our Current Fears and Expectations" from last July, denouncing Xi's cult of personality.

In a series of mobile phone messages, Xu said several Tsinghua University officials ordered him on March 25 to stop all teaching and research and indicated that a university "work team" would investigate him, focusing on the essays he has written since July, according to a report in the New York Times on March 27.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) both voiced their support for Xu on Saturday.

Chen said in a statement that the professional advice of scholars can serve as the conscience of society. In addition, a civilized society should respect diverse views as cracking down on different opinions, criticism and dissent only undermines harmony and stability.

Xi's repeal of presidential term limits in the Chinese Constitution has been criticized by many intellectuals and academics who dared to speak up, Chen said.

The scholar-turned-politician added that these criticisms are widely supported in Taiwan and the international community, so how Beijing responds will be closely watched.

Chen also called on the Chinese authorities to reflect on the flaws in their one-party dictatorship and to push for reforms so the expectations of people in China can be met.

Meanwhile, Wu, who served as MAC Minister from 2004-2007, praised scholars who support Xu in a tweet written in simplified Chinese, which is used in China.

"I admire those who have the courage to support Professor Xu Zhangrun, I see the light at the end of the tunnel," Wu said.

An online open letter by former students of Tsinghua University calling Xu's reinstatement drew support from more than 700 people, including former students from Peking University, Fudan University in Shanghai and people from overseas.

(By Elaine Hou, Miao Zong-han and Chung Yu-chen)


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