Academic Freedom

Something else I forget to mention from yesterday…
I learned that the last time an invited guest from the US came to speak to students in the general education classes in American Culture, the instructor was brought into the regional Communist Party headquarters for questioning.

Jason and I have not felt that we have been under surveillance while here in China. In the beginning we assumed we were being watched and were told to expect occasional searches of our apartment, etc. It just hasn’t been that way. We feel free to offer our criticisms and, even, when asked, recommend different policies and political approaches. Really, if it weren’t for censorship of the internet, we would rarely think about the fact that we live in a totalitarian state where information is tightly controlled. The stories we hear about people getting into trouble almost always have a Chinese-national academic as their protagonist. I think the Party realizes that the political consequences of silencing foreign academics are great – better to control the talk of their own citizen-professors and to increase the costs to them of including outside viewpoints (e.g. in the form of guest lecturers) in the classroom.

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