China detains law professor for criticising President Xi Jinping over coronavirus pandemic

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jul 06, 2020, 04.32 PM(IST)

China President Xi Jinping Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

In February, Xu published an essay criticising the culture of deception and censorship fostered by Xi for the spread of the coronavirus in China.

Chinese authorities have detained Xu Zhangrun, a law professor on Monday. According to Zhangrun's friends, the professor published a few essays criticising President Xi Jinping over coronavirus pandemic and his efforts to consolidate power. 

Also read: China warns Canada of 'consequences' over Hong Kong interference

Chinese freedom of expression has always been tightly controlled by the Communist Party, but that grip has become suffocating under Xi.

Zhagrun has been a rare outspoken critic in the heavily censored country and has criticised the communist regime. He was taken from his home in suburban Beijing by over 20 men, one of his friends said on condition of anonymity.

In February, Xu published an essay criticising the culture of deception and censorship fostered by Xi for the spread of the coronavirus in China.

Also read: Hong Court denied bail to first man charged under Beijing's security law; matter adjourned till October

He wrote that China's "leader system is itself destroying the structure of governance". He went on to add that the chaos in the virus epicentre of Hubei province reflected systemic problems in the Chinese state. Xu's essay was posted on foreign websites. 

Xu is a law professor at Tsinghua University, which is considered as one of the top universities in China. He even spoke against the abolition of presidential term limits in 2018 in an essay that circulated online. 

One of Xu's friend on Monday said that the police had called Xu's wife to inform that the professor was arrested for allegedly soliciting prostitution in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

Xu did visit Chengdu previous winter along with several Chinese scholars but it is unclear if the trip is related to the arrest. But according to his friend these allegations were  "ridiculous and shameless".

Xu was placed under home arrest last week, the friend said.

An online petition was signed in 2019 by hundreds of alumni and academics from around the world after he was reportedly barred Xu from teaching and conducting.