BEIJING, Sept 1 One of China's top universities
has urged students and teachers to "fight against" criticism of
the ruling Communist Party, an influential party journal said,
in the latest curbs on free expression.
The move by Peking University, which at one time was a
bastion of free speech in China, underscores increasing anxiety
of criticism among party leaders and is a sign of Chinese
President Xi Jinping's politically conservative agenda.
Curricula and speech at Chinese universities are tightly
controlled by the government, though students at Peking
University have at times pushed the limits, including during the
1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests that were brutally
suppressed by the army.
"In recent years, some people with ulterior motives have
added fuel to the flames on the Internet ... ultimately
targeting the Chinese Communist Party and the socialist system,"
an article in the journal Qiushi, which means "seeking truth" in
Chinese, said late on Sunday.
Those actions "created a very large negative impact on
public opinion on the Internet and social consensus," the
article, written by the university's party committee, said.
The committee called on teachers and students to "take a
firm stand and be unequivocal, and fight against speech and
actions that touch upon the party's and country's principles and
bottom lines in a timely, efficient and resolute manner".
The university has in the past few years established a
24-hour system to monitor public opinion on the Internet and
take early measures to control and reduce the effects of
negative speech, the article said.
Xi's administration, which took control in March 2013, has
stepped up a crackdown on dissent, detaining and jailing
activists, muzzling Internet critics and strengthening
restrictions on journalists in what some rights groups call the
worst suppression of free expression in recent years.
China on Saturday ordered journalists of both traditional
and online media to learn "Marxist news values" and uphold the
principles of news as prescribed by the party.
In October, Peking University leaders voted to end the
contract of then professor Xia Yeliang, 53, who had drawn the
ire of school officials for his blog posts calling for
democratic reforms and rule of law in China.
(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee and Li Hui; Editing by Jeremy