By: Logan Whitcomb
As tensions with China have increased over the previous years, universities across America have remained all too quiet. This has been noted by scholars and academics, and recent crackdowns on COVID protests have sparked a group of over 100 professors and students to sign a letter demanding that universities speak out against the wrongdoings of China. In the opening paragraph, it reads, “We, a group of scholars and students from around the world, call on universities, faculties, and others to speak up for Chinese students and scholars at risk.”
Traditionally, universities have always prioritized their research interests over any moral codes of conduct, and this silence on human rights in China is no different. The letter calls out those who declined to sign on these grounds, saying “Some academics have declined to sign this letter, citing a need to retain field research access to China. Maintaining research access is a pointless exercise until China’s human rights record improves.”
Even in America, Chinese students often live in fear of the Chinese regime. While authorities cannot do anything directly to the students, the families of students can be punished, so many students remain quiet or anonymous. For students in China, the story is much different.
One such student who fought against the oppressive leaders of China was Cao Zhixin, a graduate of Renmin University in China. She was arrested after it was found that she was involved in a candlelight vigil to mourn the victims of the Urumqi fire. Just before her arrest and ultimate disappearance, she posted a video on YouTube, saying, “I have asked my friends to post this video in case of my disappearance. If you are seeing this video, it means I have already been taken away by the police like my other friends.”
It is shocking for many in America to see this type of powerless fear of the authorities, and it goes to show the immense power the CCP has acquired in China. The fight for freedom of speech cannot stop at our borders but must continue overseas until all people are able to speak out against authorities without fearing for their life.
The letter is still accepting more signatures for anyone wanting to speak out against the detainment of student protestors, which may be found here.