Criticism should be constructive to governance

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/3/27 21:04:14

Tsinghua University professor Xu Zhangrun told foreign media on Tuesday that he has been placed under investigation and stopped teaching and research, which foreign media has hyped.

The Global Times learned that Xu's teaching and research work has only been temporarily suspended, and the university has not yet made any specific decision prior to the investigation result. Tsinghua is conducting an independent inquiry based on school regulations. Xu's claim that he "could end up in prison" at worst is an exaggeration.

Several politically extreme articles have made Xu stand out from dissidents in China since 2018. He has obviously put his university in a difficult position. He must be certain that one cannot keep his teaching position for long at a top university with an open stance of political confrontation. His stand has forced the university to adopt a different attitude.

The treatment Xu has received may not surprise those familiar with him. One can never find a top university in any country tolerating a professor with such an aggressive anti-establishment view. Confucius Institutes at US universities avoid touching on sensitive topics and introduce China positively. Even these institutes are accused by US lawmakers and media outlets of infiltration, and were closed by an increasing number of US colleges.

Some radical professors have cooperated with their administrators and have not gone too far in recent years. But Xu is the opposite. His actions have harmed Tsinghua's academic environment in an extreme way.

Chinese intellectuals are active in their thoughts, and many are keen to criticize. We believe China needs criticism for social progress. However, criticizing itself is not an end. It should be constructive in politics and governance. 

First, criticism in China must not violate the Constitution or target China's fundamental political system. The so-called criticism that smears the CPC's authority and shatters people's confidence in the country's path should be opposed. If some Western elites call for a change to separation of powers and establish a China-style political system, they will face pressure and pay for that. 

Second, advocating antagonism is not allowed in China. Unlike the Western system, which is built on and achieves a balance of social governance based on constant antagonism, China has chosen the harmonious way. Chinese critics should avoid imitating Western media to draw attention that will erode the society, and will certainly be limited.

Third, critics must check the accuracy of what they say. The more influential critics have a greater responsibility. The accuracy should be both microscopic and macroscopic. In other words, critics need to keep in mind that they should not create misconceptions by using a partial problem to represent the whole country. 

Some Western forces have been denying China's path. We believe Chinese critics should avoid creating misconceptions if they don't want to serve the West. 

China has been exploring ways to free public opinion and simultaneously ensure political security and social cohesion. It is not an easy task, particularly with interference from the Western values system. We hope the Chinese government and institutions become more open to criticism, which is important. Influential critics should be more constructive but not radical or extreme, which is also important. Moreover, the public should improve their ability to distinguish rational opinions from irresponsible ones. This is the key to improving the country's comprehensive acceptability. 



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