Beijing (AsiaNews) - Xia Yeliang, a professor of economics at Peking University (PKU, aka Beida), has been expelled. According to the university, he was not a good teacher, but bloggers have rallied behind him because, as a liberal economist, he has always supported China's democratisation and is a friend of Liu Xiaobo.
A committee at Peking University's School of Economics voted 30 to 3 to expel Xia, after 15 years of employment. He will remain at the University until 31 December, when his contract formally expires.
Known for its views in favour of an open economy, Prof Xia is a personal friend of Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Prize for Peace, who was sentenced in 2009 to 11 years in prison on charges of "attempting to overthrow the state" by drafting Charter 08, a manifesto calling for religious freedom and democracy in China.
Xia helped Liu draft this important document, and in 2009, he wrote a letter to the country's leadership criticising restrictions on academic freedom.
His expulsion comes at a time when the country's leaders are tightening control over bloggers and intellectuals who spread "rumours" critical of the regime.
In a statement posted on its microblog account two days ago, Peking University said that Xia was the school's worst-ranked teacher and the source of 340 student complaints since 2006.
However, bloggers on Sina.com have come to his defence, saying that more liberal professors like him are needed, people who are making sacrifices in their life to defend the Chinese people, whilst many others only protect themselves.