On December 21, 2009, Zhang Boshu (张博树), political philosopher and constitutional scholar, was asked to leave his post at the Philosophy Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), China’s largest think tank and a state-run institution. Zhang joined CASS in 1991 as an assistant research fellow. Two years later, he published an article in Hong Kong that was critical of the government’s 1989 June Fourth crackdown. Zhang has held the same title for the past 18 years. The dismissal notice says Zhang now has three months to “transfer out” of CASS.
Zhang said in a statement that although the official reason for his expulsion was “his absence without leave” in 2009 – referring to research trips to Japan and the United States in July and August – the real reason is that his numerous articles advocating constitutional reform contravene the “political discipline” of the Communist Party committee at CASS, which requires adherence to the central government’s position. (Below is an English version of Zhang’s statement translated by Human Rights in China.)
Zhang’s recent article “What Type of ‘Soft Power’ Does China Need?” will appear in the forthcoming issue of China Rights Forum (2009 no. 4), Human Rights in China’s quarterly journal. In the article, Zhang highlights the distinction between the “genuine soft power” based on universal human values and what he considers to be “bogus” soft power, which co-opts traditional culture in order to prettify China’s current one-party political structure.
Zhang is also the author of ten books, including From May 4 to June 4: Criticism of Chinese Despotism in the 20th Century (Vol. I) and Feasibility Studies on China’s Constitutional Reform. In December 2008, Zhang was among the first group of Charter 08 signatories.
Statement by Zhang Boshu Regarding the Decision to Transfer within a Set Time Limit
Issued by the Institute of Philosophy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
[Translated by Human Rights in China, December 21, 2009]
This morning (December 21, 2009), I was invited to the Institute of Philosophy by its Deputy Director Yu Yong, Deputy Director Sun Weiping, and the Personnel Office Director Xu Xiuting, who in my presence read the Decision by the Institute of Philosophy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Regarding the Transfer of Zhang Boshu within a Set Time Limit. The full text of the decision is as follows:
“Zhang Boshu, male, of Han ethnicity, born in November 1955, began work at our institute in July 1991. In the course of this year, he repeatedly violated work discipline, leaving the country on his own initiative, without asking for leave or receiving permission, being absent from work for more than a month in one stretch and for approximately two months cumulatively.
“In accordance with the provision allowing dismissal for “continuous unjustified absence without leave in access of 15 days, or cumulative absence without leave in excess of 30 days in one year” as stipulated in Article 3, Section 4 of the Provisional Regulations on the Dismissal of Professional and Technical Staff and Management Personnel from Work Units under Collective Ownership by the People issued by the Personnel Office, and the provision that “anyone who leaves the country of their own accord without undergoing the approval process, while on vacation, will be treated as an absentee without leave” as stipulated in Item 4, Article 2 of the Regulations of the Institute of Philosophy Regarding Requests for Time Off, Zhang Boshu is being transferred from the Institute of Philosophy and is to find employment by himself within the time limit of three months (starting from December 21, 2009, and ending with March 20, 2010). After this period allotted for finding employment, the Institute of Philosophy will no longer maintain relations with nor keep personnel files on Zhang Boshu.”
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Institute of Philosophy (official seal)
December 15, 2009
The following is my special statement regarding the preceding Decision:
In order to promote the reform of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, for the freedom of expression and academic freedom in China, and to prevent even more people from suffering the harms of autocracy, I am making the Institute of Philosophy’s Decision and this statement public online. At the same time, I am publishing two letters that I had sent to the leadership of the Institute of Philosophy a year ago, so that the public can comment on them. I am convinced that no one wishes to be the buffoon or the villain of history in this present era of such great transformation. After all, we will all have to pass the test of history and assume our historical responsibility, whether that responsibility be positive or negative.
(December 21, 2009, 4:00 P.M., Beijing)