Chinese authorities ban human rights, political discussions at universities

May 12, 2013

By NOZOMU HAYASHI/ Correspondent

BEIJING--In an apparent sign of declining confidence in one-party rule by the Communist Party, Chinese authorities recently banned the discussion of political reform and human rights topics in classes at universities in major cities.

Among the seven banned topics are citizens' rights, freedom of the press and judicial independence.

It was only late last year that the Chinese Communist Party expressed confidence that the rapid economic growth in the nation was evidence that the party had charted a correct policy course.

However, the sudden clamping down on the discussion of sensitive topics at universities may be a sign that authorities continue to be concerned about party domination, which could lead to public unrest.

According to multiple sources in Beijing, the memorandum was apparently issued by early May by high-ranking officials and those in party positions at various universities.

The topic became the focus of attention after university professors in Beijing and Shanghai disclosed the information over the Internet.

The topics that were banned from discussions were universal values, such as human rights; freedom of the press; political and other rights for citizens; the civil society, in which citizens become aware of their rights and obligations; historical mistakes by the Communist Party, such as the Cultural Revolution; bureaucrats and others who grow rich through their monopoly of vested interests; and judicial independence.

All the topics have been the focus of attention in recent years during debate on political reform.

Citing China's economic success as evidence, the party late last year emphasized its "confidence in the course toward a unique socialism, confidence in its theory and confidence in its system."

However, regarding the latest memorandum, one university professor said, "It shows that the party's 'confidence' was nothing but an empty slogan."

By NOZOMU HAYASHI/ Correspondent
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A student-led demonstration demanding democracy garnered broad public support but was eventually suppressed by force in the 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

A student-led demonstration demanding democracy garnered broad public support but was eventually suppressed by force in the 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • A student-led demonstration demanding democracy garnered broad public support but was eventually suppressed by force in the 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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