The Teachers' Assessment and Employment Commission of the School of Economics, Peking University, officially announced on October 19 the termination of the employment contract of associate professor Xia Yeliang, who immediately expressed his objection to the decision in several interviews with overseas press. Some media outlets, including the "Voice of America," put the incident down to Xia's outspokenness in "criticizing the authorities" and even labeled Peking University an institution that imposed "political repression."
According to the statement from the commission, Xia ranked lowest in terms of teaching evaluation for several consecutive years at the School of Economics. Since 2006, the school has received more than 340 negative assessments of his work. The commission carried out a secret ballot last October and the result required that he be dismissed. But the university decided to extend the contract for one year to give Xia an opportunity to improve his performance.
This month, the commission voted again, with the same result. Whether a teacher's contract is extended is a decision that belongs to the internal administration authority of the School of Economics.
More than 100 members of the faculty at the US-based Wellesley College once threatened Peking University by saying it would suspend cooperation if the latter did not extend Xia's contract.
Statistics from the School of Economics showed that Xia lacked support from both the students and teaching staff to continue teaching. Xia once declared that the authority of the university would "affect" the attitude of voters, which is an obvious distortion of the facts, since it is now almost impossible for officials to twist votes at a place like Beida.
It is hard to be a good professor, but easy to become a "well-known one" in famous institutions of higher education such as Beida. One can gain wide renown just by making some "bombastic" or "hyperbolic" remarks against the system, and Xia serves as a typical example.
Some played up the case and said Xia is being politically persecuted. It cannot be denied that recently, whenever liberals are charged with breach of laws or encounter similar troubles, "political persecution" will be heard immediately. They are trying to establish a "rule" that all those politically against institutions should be immune from punishment.
Peking University's termination of Xia Yeliang's contract did not cause an uproar in the beginning, because the votes reflected the real attitudes of students and teaching staff. Opposite views mainly come from other countries and the Internet.
We shall strive to prevent certain political sentiments from penetrating every sector of life, including distorting the assessment of a teacher.
"Political dissidents" have continued to appear in recent years in China, and Xia seems to have resorted to the same method.
Being a dissident is a special way of surviving in the current society, so a number of liberals are optimistic about its prospects. That being the case, they should stop worrying about personal gains and losses.