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China detains professor who criticized President Xi

July 6, 2020

Xu Zhangrun has been detained after publishing an essay in which the professor made critical comments of the Chinese government’s handling of the pandemic. The professor also took a dim view of other government policies.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission
Image: picture-alliance/Photoshot

Chinese authorities on Monday detained a law professor who published articles criticizing President Xi Jinping (above) over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as his undemocratic policies, according to friends of the man.

Xu Zhangrun was seized at his home in suburban Beijing, before being taken away by more than 20 people, one of his friends said on condition of anonymity.

The Chinese regime takes a dim view of negative publicity, particularly if it stems from the nation's heavily censored academic sector.

Read more: Coronavirus: Li Wenliang's death 'a moment of awakening' for China

Xu's detention has been linked to an essay he published in February citing the culture of deception and censorship fostered by President Xi as a reason for the spread of the novel virus.

The Chinese "leader system is itself destroying the structure of governance," Xu wrote in the paper that was published on websites outside of China, adding the chaos in the coronavirus epicentre of Hubei province was down to systemic issues.

Xu said China was "led by one man only, but this man is in the dark and rules tyrannically, with no method for governance, though he is skilled at playing with power, causing the entire country to suffer."
Read more: Hong Kong is being 'robbed of its rights'

He also predicted that an ongoing economic slowdown would cause "the decline of national confidence," along with "political and academic indignation and social atrophy."

It is not the first time Xu has been critical of the government. The law professor at Tsinghua University, one of the country's most renowned institutions, had previously criticized the 2018 abolition of presidential term limits in an essay that was also well-circulated online.

jsi/rc (AFP, ARD)