TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A jurist and law professor at Beijing's Tsinghua University, Xu Zhangrun (許章潤), was detained Monday (July 6) by the Chinese authorities after he openly criticized the country's leader Xi Jinping (習近平) over his coronavirus pandemic response.
Xu became the latest Chinese dissident to be silenced for his views on Monday when police removed him from his home in Beijing. According to an anonymous source close to Xu, the authorities said the 57-year-old professor had been detained for soliciting prostitution in the city of Chengdu, a claim his wife called "ridiculous" and an attempt by the Chinese government to eradicate all opposition.
Earlier this year, Xu attributed the severity of China's pandemic situation to Xi's lack of leadership, writing that the outbreak reflected systemic problems in the East Asian nation. He also lambasted Xi for trying to cover up information about the pandemic and predicted that China's economic slowdown would cause a "decline of national confidence" as well as "political and academic indignation."
In 2018, Xu also published an online essay titled "Imminent Fears, Immediate Hopes" in which he bashed Xi for pursuing totalitarian powers similar to those of former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Mao Zedong (毛澤東). While blaming the Chinese leader for the country's recent economic and cultural regression, the professor spoke out against Xi's intention to remove the two-term limit on his office, reported New Talk.
Since the news of Xu's detention broke out, the U.S. government has expressed "deep concerns" and demanded his immediate release. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus also urged the CCP to respect the freedom of expression, reported CNA.
We are deeply concerned by the PRC’s detention of Professor Xu Zhangrun for criticizing Chinese leaders amid tightening ideological controls on university campuses in China. The PRC must release Xu and uphold its international commitments to respect freedom of expression.— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) July 7, 2020