Jeffrey, a frequent commenter who lives in China, sent me the following post. I made no edits except to remove the Chinese characters (which came across in the email as squiggly lines). Thanks for this, Jeffrey!
University of Science and Technology, China (USTC)- One source of democracy for modern china
University of Science and Technology, China is a university founded in 1958. In the 50s, because of fear of possible attack from USSR and USA, the communist china realized that they should have their own powerful defense weapons. So the massive weapons including atom bomb and hydrogen bomb came into their sight. In order to develop these weapons and the man-made satellites (satellite is a sign to encourage common Chinese people), the communist china needs the necessary technology and researchers badly. To meet up with this need, President Mao and Prime Minister Zhou Enlai decided to establish one university specializing on those advanced technologies. In 1959, USTC(University of science and technology, China) was founded. Its first principal is one of Chinas most-famous scientist-Guo Mouruo.
From its founding to today, this university has been educating many top scientists for china. We can get this conclusion by the many statistics. For example, there are more than 40 CAS members (CAS represents China Academy of Science, a top science academy in mainland china, almost all of most respectable Chinese scientists are its member) from USTC, almost two times as another top chinese university-Peking University and slightly exceeds that of Tsinghua University; this university also is the biggest producer of highest IF papers and biggest science achievements. These are incredible achievement for this university because it is much smaller than its Chinese rivals and usually it receives much less government financial supporting.
This is not the point what i am going to advocate. The most incredible side of this university is, even this university is a college specializing in science and technology and having not any humane studies, it plays an important role in modern China, especially for from 1980s to the mid of 1990s.
At the beginning of 1980s, when Deng Xiao Ping started to implement his reformation policy, all of western thoughts was flooding to china. Including the conception of democracy and freedom, was assimilated by those most fashionable scholars and students. One of them is Fang Lizhi.
Actually Fang is not only a principal of USTC, but also a CCP member. He is one of the top astrophysicists in that time. Because he is a CCP member, he knew those defects and shortcomings of CCP. He started to reform his university by undertaking a “non-CCP” reformation in USTC. This reformation includes following:
1. No politic lessons would be taught in the class unless the student demands it;
2. Promote students’ position and encourage students criticizing university management team and government;
3. Drum for freedom of speech and freedom of thoughts and democracy; try to minimize the government’s influence on the university;
4. Go to other universities and advocate freedom/democracy;
At that time, almost every students of USTC were in favor of him and his bold remarks of democracy. And encouraged and inspired by Fang, those students also went outside for advocating the conception of democracy which learnt from Fang. This tide is becoming stronger and stronger, and, eventually, leads to the student unrest which occurred in 1986.
In 1986, because the student unrest is out of CCP’s control, DengXiaoPing decided to expel Fang from CCP and gave him a new job in Peking (in Peking, Fang should be easier to monitor). Although Fang was deprived of his freedom and be under house confinement, he was still influencing his beloved students to struggle for more democracy. In 1989, after Tiananmen Square massacre, with Bush’s help, Fang finally got his freedom in New World.
Another well-known scholar is Wen Yuankai. He also was a scientist advocating democracy in USTC.
In the 1980s, two principals of USTC was forced to exile aboard because of political persecution. One is Fang, and another is Guan Weiyan. Guan Weiyan died of one traffic accident in Taiwan, he had never allowed to return to mainland since 1989.
Also in the 1980s, the most rapid era of revolution on Chinese thoughts, USTC is the landmark of democracy pursuing in modern Chinese history. It does not only lead the tidy to awaken common Chinese conscience on democracy and freedom, but also act as a role of preacher to spread the conception of democracy. After 1980s, USTC lost CCP’s favor and be the target of persecution in most aspects, the public funding, the government help, etc. The CCP had assigned two several members(Peng Peiyuan, Ten ten) to this university and begin the organizational suppress. Even though, most USTC students are still remembering their ex-principals’ ideals. As I knew, one graduate working for New York Human Right won one respectable prize for his prominent contribution on human rights last year. And, I had visited this university one time, and was touched deeply by their freed environment and democratic atmosphere. This kind of democratic/free sentiment is rarely felt in current Chinese university. Some USTC students told me frankly that they’d like “Not to talk about politic” because they have no feelings towards abnormal political surrounding. The graduates from this Chinese top university are rarely engaged in Chinese ruling team. And till now, no USTC graduate was found guilty because of corruption or other crimes.
It’s very weird that one science & tech university, not a comprehensive university like Peking University, acted as the leading role to pursuing, to teaching Chinese the conception of democracy and finally stir up the democracy event of 1989. But it left much for us carefully thinking.