Chinese Lawyers Ask If Banning Western Values Was Legal

By Lu Chen
Lu Chen
Lu Chen
February 25, 2015 Updated: February 25, 2015

A group of nine Chinese lawyers are questioning whether the Chinese regime broke the law when it banned Western values from Chinese universities.

A Freedom of Information request was published on the Chinese Internet on Feb. 19, jointly signed by nine Chinese lawyers from Beijing, Hubei, Chongqing, Guizhou, and Yunnan. The document is titled “By Its Nature Learning Should Be Open, To Seal Up Schools and Shut Up the Country is to Endanger the Nation.”

The document was addressed to China’s Ministry of Education, responding to a recent speech of the Minister of Education Yuan Guiren who stated that China’s higher education must not allow western values to spread in universities and colleges. 

Yuan stated “Four Absolute Nos” at a meeting to study the spirit of the “Opinion Regarding Further Strengthening and Improving Propaganda and Ideology Work in Higher Education Given New Circumstances,” according to state-run news agency Xinhua on Jan. 29. 

To strengthen the management to textbooks materials and classrooms, he said, “it’s absolutely not allowed to spread western value in teaching materials and class lectures; it’s absolutely not allowed to attack and defame the party leaders or smear socialism; no discussion that violates the Constitution or laws is allowed to spread in college classrooms; instructors are absolutely not allowed to grumble and complain in the classroom, or inculcate a bad mood amongst the student body.”

In the application, the nine lawyers gave three requests from the Ministry of Education:Provide the legal support and the basis of authority for Yuan Guiren’s “Four Absolute No’s” order to the nation’s institutes of higher learning. Publish a standard for delineating “Western value systems.” Publish the criteria for differentiating between “attacking, defaming, and smearing” and the rights of criticism, suggestion, and free speech guaranteed by the Constitution.

The lawyers stated in the application that all the cultural and value exchanges in the history of the world have brought prosperity to human civilization. “Resting on the laurels and departing from trends in world development only lead to filth and mire,” the application says. 

Along with the lawyers’ request, many Chinese people have also condemned the education minister’s attitude against Western values. Chinese real estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang stated at an annual national economic forum in Beijing on Feb. 14 that “[The Chinese regime’s] positioning itself against Western values looks like something out of the Cultural Revolution.”

The Ministry of Education has not yet provided a public response to the lawyers’ request. 

Lu Chen