US-China College Partnership

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October 9, 2013

From VOA Learning English this is the Education Report.

American colleges and universities are setting up satellite campuses with Chinese schools to reach new students. In June, Wellesley College, a

women’s college in Massachusetts, signed a partnership with Peking University in Beijing. Now Wellesley professors are expressing concern over what they say is a campaign to suppress political dissent at their Chinese sister school.

Xia Yeliang also known as David, is a senior professor of economics at Peking University. His classroom lectures and blogs have made him a leading supporter of political change in China.  “I can’t bear any more.  I think the regression is so shameless, I think we should have the fundamental institutional change to establish constitutional democracy and rule of law.  And I think in the future, all citizens should have independent rights and should have individual freedom.”

Professor Xia's opinions may cost him his job. In the coming weeks, Peking University faculty will vote on whether to dismiss him. The university has not been responding to question about why the professor could lose his job. China’s state-run Global Times newspaper published an editorial questioning his job performance, the opinion piece label the professor an “extremist liberal.”

Professor Xia says his troubles are part of wider campaign against freedom of speech under China’s new president, Xi Jinping.  “They have much more severe measures towards intellectuals, to anyone who there speaks out, even for some businessman. So they have a concentrated campaign these a few months; they have arrested so many people,” stated Xia.

A debate over Professor Xia’s future comes just months after Wellesley College announced this academic partnership with Peking University. Now the partnership with Peking University has been criticised by almost 40% of Wellesley's faculty. 130 Wellesley professors signed a letter urging the college to rethink its partnership with Peking University if Professor Xia is dismissed.

William Joseph was one of the authors of the letter, he is the Political Science professor at Wellesley, who focuses on Chinese politics and ideology.  “I have been engaging with this regime [Chinese government] for more than 40 years, and I am willing to live within limits generally, but when it becomes so specific as in David’s case, where I believe it's so blatantly a violation of academic freedom rather than just self-censorship, that is the major tool of the dictatorship in China, I felt I had no choice but to take a stand.”

The President of Wellesley College Kim Bottomly said the Wellesley's faculty will reconsider the school's relationship with Peking Univeristy if Professor Xia is fired.

That is the Education Report from VOA Learning English, I'm Christopher Cruise.

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