20 Oct 2013

Chinese university fires outspoken economist

8:40 am on 20 October 2013

A liberal Chinese economist who had been an outspoken critic of China's ruling Communist Party has been expelled from the elite Peking University, amid a broader crackdown on dissent.

Professor Xia Yeliang, 53, had angered school officials with blog posts calling for democratic reforms and rule of law in China.

He said he had been told on Friday that professors and school leaders had voted to end his contract.

Journalists, lawyers and rights activists have been detained and arrested in recent months, denting hopes of Chinese liberals and intellectuals that the new government under President Xi Jinping, which took over in March, would be more tolerant of calls for reform.

Professor Xia said he is allowed to teach until the end of January. He plans to take his case to the university provost and hire a lawyer for a possible appeal.

"I know there is a very narrow hope for winning a lawsuit. There is no way to win. They have the whole system," he said.

Before the vote was held, Professor Xia, once a government adviser and commentator in state media, told Reuters he believed he was facing retaliation for a decade of criticism of the government and party. He said his microblog has been blocked by authorities.

Zhang Zheng, the party secretary of the university's school of economics, told Reuters before the vote was held that Xia's teaching ability was at issue.

Meanwhile, the official Xinhua news agency says the mayor of the eastern city of Nanjing, has been sacked, the latest move in a nationwide crackdown on graft.