China professor suspended after student says he ‘worships’ West
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China professor suspended after student says he ‘worships’ West

A Chinese professor has been suspended by his university after a talk he gave at a school prompted an outburst from a student who accused him of worshipping the West.

The incident happened Saturday at Lujiang Middle School in Anhui province, some 400km west of Shanghai. A video clip posted on social media shows a student walking onto the stage, taking a microphone from a professor and shouting, “He only has money in his eyes, thinks learning is just for money, worships the West and panders to overseas powers.”

“For what purpose do we study hard? It’s for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” he added, echoing a phrase popularized by President Xi Jinping. “Do not cross-breed with Americans!” the student also said.

The videos that have gone viral in China don’t show all of the professor’s remarks.

Chen Hongyou, an associate professor of education at Hefei Normal University, said in an interview with Chinese media outlet The Paper that he was the speaker in the video.

His speech was intended to encourage students “to use their own efforts to change their destiny, and to step toward the wider country and the world,” he said.

The professor also said he had “joked” about topics including gender and nationalities in his talk, and that “as an educator who has worked for more than 30 years, I feel very guilty” about what he termed a misunderstanding.

Chen said he was suspended from his teaching duties and asked by the university to write an essay reflecting on the matter. His biographical page, which says he won numerous accolades for teaching, has been removed from Hefei Normal’s website. 

Chen was once named “outstanding Communist Party member” at Hefei Normal, according to the bio.

The government of Lujiang county said in a statement on social media that what was supposed to be a motivational speech caused “dissatisfaction” among teachers and students due to “inappropriate content.”

Officials are investigating the middle school over its vetting of the professor’s presentation and will “hold it to account,” the government said, adding that the university’s party committee is looking into Chen.

Calls to Hefei Normal University and Lujiang Middle School weren’t answered.

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