And then they came, again, for the student Marxists

Politics & Current Affairs

“Labor activists missing in China after suspected coordinated raids,” says Reuters. Background:

  • In August this year, 50 students from across China, including young idealists from the prestigious Nanjing, Peking, and Renmin universities, went to Huizhou in southern China in August to protestagainst the treatment of factory workers. Some of them were detained extra-legally.
  • In September, the Financial Times reported (paywall) that the prestigious Peking University was threatening to close down its student Marxism society because the students were practicing Marxism by connecting with workers and organizing.
  • On November 2, Reuters reported that two students at Nanjing University were assaulted and hauled away, “according to a witness and video footage, after they led protests against their university on Thursday for refusing to recognize an on-campus Marxist student society.”
  • The crackdown is intensifying: The most recent Reuters report says that at least 12 student labor activists have “gone missing”:

Authorities took away at least nine activists in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen late on Friday, and three more activists were taken away on Sunday in the city of Wuhan, the sources said.

At least five graduates of Peking University, one of the country’s top universities, were among those picked up on Friday, student activists said.

  • One of the graduates was “kidnapped” on the Peking University campus, according to Agence France-Presse: “An eyewitness and Peking University student claimed that more than ten people in dark-colored clothing beat Zhang before dragging him into a black car.”
  • Professor Eli Friedman of Cornell University — who was involved in cooperative projects with Renmin University and their October 20 suspension after Renmin students affiliated with its Marxist society were punished — tweeted: “Info is still sketchy, but it looks like China’s preeminent institution of higher ed is implicated in the physical assault and kidnapping of its own student. Where’s Zhang Shengye?”
  • “Not a coincidence — Peking University’s new Party secretary, the real head of the university, has a long history in the politics and law system, including a brief stint as party secretary of the Beijing state security bureau,” tweeted China-watcher Bill Bishop. (See our previous note on this: The death of Peking University.)
  • See also: Young activists go missing in China, raising fears of crackdown / NYT (porous paywall).