Moves to lower Xia’s profile as colleges raise theirs

It is hard to know exactly which transgression propelled Xia Yeliang, an accomplished Peking University economist, from opinionated irritant to a marked enemy of China’s ruling Communist Party, writes Andrew Jacobs for The New York Times.

There was his 2009 public letter that ridiculed the technical school degree held by the nation’s propaganda minister and the interview he gave last year to Radio Free Asia, describing China as a “Communist one-party dictatorship”. But Xia says he probably crossed a line last year when he posted an online jeremiad calling on Chinese intellectuals to gather in public squares to debate political reform. In the coming weeks, Xia says, he is likely to be dismissed from his teaching post at Peking University, a move he and others say reflects government’s determination to control intellectual discourse.

The effort to silence Xia has thrown into sharp relief the challenges facing elite colleges and universities like Peking University, caught between political controls at home and their ambitions to gain international respect as grand centres of learning. In recent years, the university has waged a muscular and well-financed effort to raise its global profile through partnerships and exchanges with some of the world’s top institutions.
Full report on The New York Times site