Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sina Weibo Censors Professor Chen Hongguo's Resignation Announcement

At 10:15 am on December 23, 2013, Chen Hongguo (谌洪果), an associate professor of law at Northwest University of Politics and Law in Shaanxi Province, posted the following announcement on his Sina Weibo:
This morning I have submitted my resignation letter to the school. I now publish this “Open Announcement of Resignation.” Let us be calm and rational, and exercise our rights appropriately as ordinary citizens.
His post included an image of his Public Announcement of Resignation.

These screenshots show that within hours his post was deleted.

Later that evening Chen posted this:
Explanation: Although my resignation announcement was deleted, I will nevertheless remain rational, respectful, and well-intended. Things are difficult for me, but I will go on loving. Taking things as they come, for the sake of my family’s happiness.
On January 27, 2014, the state-sponsored Global Times published an editorial entitled “Renegade Scholars.” An excerpt:
Chen has tried to invite prominent scholars to give lectures to his students but ran into difficulty with the school authorities. In 2012, Chen started organizing a book club among students called Citizens for Self-governance and Cooperation, to read and discuss works such as On Liberty by John Stuart Mill, and Science as a Vocation by Max Weber, among others. The school ordered Chen to shut it down, but Chen's teaching position remained intact.

The fracas escalated when the school tried to stop him from attending an academic conference in Hong Kong. Chen went anyway, and when he came back, his exit-entry permit was revoked. He tried applying for a new one but the school stalled the process, Chen wrote on his Weibo.
. . . .
The main reason for his resignation was that he felt that space for academic exchanges and teaching was getting narrower, Chen wrote in the public letter.
These screenshots show that, the day after Chen posted his resignation letter, Sina Weibo began censoring “Chen Hongguo Open Announcement of Resignation” (谌洪果 辞职公开声明).

These screenshots show that the text of Chen’s announcement was also removed from his Sina blog.