Chinese university fires outspoken economist amid crackdown on dissent

Chinese university fires outspoken economist amid crackdown on dissent

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 drawn the ire of school officials for his blog posts calling for democratic reforms and rule of law in China. Xia said he was told on Friday that professors and school leaders had voted to end his contract.

Chinese liberals and intellectuals had hoped the new government under President Xi Jinping that took over in March would be more tolerant of calls for reform but it appears authorities won't tolerate any challenge to their rule.

Journalists, lawyers and rights activists have been detained and arrested in recent months.

"They insisted that it was not a political decision, but I believe it is," Xia told Reuters by telephone. "They told me if I keep telling people it is a political issue, then my situation will get worse. They think I have damaged the image of the school of economics and Peking University."

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," Xia said.

Before the vote was held, 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.

University administrators could not be reached immediately for comment. 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.

"We're examining whether students believe his classes are taught well," Zhang said in September. "It has absolutely no connection to his political views or advocacy."

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