#MeToo in China

I have been watching this, both as a scholar interested in social moblization and as an individual in the academic circle. #MeToo as a movement has influenced China. Based on my quite limited observation, there is one distinctive feature: it starts from and primarily focuses on the academic circle. Currently, faculty members (mostly established professors) from three top-notch universities have been reported or are under investigation.

Shen Yang 沈阳 is a professor of Chinese Literature, Yangtze River Scholar. He received his degree from Peking University and worked there before moving to Nanjing University, where he was expeled when the scandal broke out. He was also affiliated with Shanghai Normal University before the scandal. Here is a New York Times report on this case.

Gu Haibing 顾海兵 is a professor of economics at People’s University of China.

Zhang Kangzhi 张康之 who taught at People’s University of China earlier is now currently at Nanjing University, where he is a professor in the School of Government. He is a Yangtze River Scholar as well.

For a report in Chinese on Gu and Zhang, see here.

I believe this is not the end. The challenge is how to make it a sustainable movement that will utimately lead to improved governance (not the short-term improvements, as Maria Repnikova has insightfully pointed out).

There are a few things worth noting. First, the exposure of such scandals are certainly inspired by the #MeToo movement, but a number of other reasons contributed to it. The Internet, and the alumni networks have played pivotal role in the process. If #MeToo serves as the political opportunity structure, the Internet and the alumni networks have provided the necessary organization and moblization resources. Second, this is not merely about sexual harrassment or abuses in Chinese universities. It points to large issues of advisor-student relationship, academic corruption, and freedom of expression in China.