Although China does allow slightly more freedom of speech than North Korea, ever since Xi Jinping became President in 2013, the country has been cracking down on speech and expression deemed subversive in its higher academic institutions.
President Xi has been pushing universities to espouse the views of Maoism and to get back on the socialist track, especially since he’s been courting conservative members of the Communist Party. In September 2014, a prominent Party journal stated that top-ranking Peking University appealed to its faculty and student body to “fight criticism of the party.” The Party is afraid that if it loosens too much of its grip, the country could descend into territorial breakup and mass disorder.
Professor Xia Yeliang, an economics professor at Peking University, was let go from his job in 2013. He’s an advocate of greater freedom of speech. The Chinese government also has imprisoned Liu Xiaobo, a human rights activist who started a petition to reinstate Xia at his job. During the same year, law Professor Zhang Xuezhong, who worked at East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, was fired after publishing articles that defended rights guaranteed under China’s Constitution.