Chinese professor freed after criticisms of president landed him in 6 day detention

A Chinese professor, who criticised President Xi Jinping’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, has been reportedly freed after spending 6 days in detention. Xu Zhangrun, a law professor at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, was reportedly taken by a group of more than 20 people from his home after publishing an essay overseas that claimed the Chinese president was “destroying the structure of governance”.

He allegedly blamed the coronavirus pandemic on the president’s authoritarianism and censorship. He said the lack of openness contributed to the outbreak in which Communist Party officials tried to suppress the initial news of the virus. A friend of Xu’s says a man claiming to be a police officer, phoned Xu’s wife saying he was arrested for soliciting prostitutes, which the friend says was “ridiculous and shameless.”

The professor was then allegedly put under house arrest for one week prior to being taken from his home. But this isn’t the first time the outspoken professor has been in trouble with the government. Previously, he wrote an essay that criticised the 2018 abolition of presidential term limits, which leaves the president free to rule for the remainder of his life.

That essay reportedly got Xu barred from teaching and research last year at Tsinghua University in which the university’s alumni and other academics worldwide petitioned for his reinstatement. With the recent news of his detention, the US and EU labelled the act as a human rights violation and have since pushed for his release.

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The news comes in light of a recent national security law passed by Chinese authorities that has many criticising its strong-handedness over Hong Kong despite signing the “One Country, Two Systems” agreement at the time the former British territory was handed back to Chinese control in 1997.

Just a few weeks ago, news came of a documentarian choosing to cut scenes that included an artist singing the national anthem while being inside a cage. The filmmaker says he was worried the documentary wouldn’t be allowed in Hong Kong after the mainland set a law preventing the mockery of China’s national anthem. Such incidents of ‘freedom of speech’ have continuously been reportedly squashed by the government.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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