China student speaks of harassment over protests

Complaints follow Cornell’s suspension of exchanges with Renmin over academic freedom 

Financial Times
November 3, 2018

The entrance to Renmin University in Beijing. Academics and students say the institution is involved in censorship © Wikicommons

A student at China’s Renmin University has described its attempts to stop her from speaking out over workers’ rights, after Cornell University suspended two student exchange programmes with the Beijing-based institution over restrictions on academic freedoms.

Yang Shuhan, a third-year philosophy student who took part in a pro-workers protest in the summer, told the Financial Times that since returning to Renmin she had been carefully watched by teachers, who warned her against speaking out again.

“They would keep asking to eat with me, and would always end the meals by asking me what activities I’ve been involved in. They keep ‘recommending’ that I don’t post more on social media or accept interviews,” she said. “I still feel these are things I should do. I have not violated any rules. These are my rights.”

Ms Yang was among a group of students who supported workers in southern China trying to start a trade union, in an unusual case of activism among China’s closely-monitored university students.

The case of the leftist students’ worker advocacy has put Chinese authorities in an awkward position. Organised activism is repressed by the government, and there have been few instances of student protest since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.    [FULL  STORY]

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