Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"Academic Killer" in China?

Even in peace period, there are occasional voices of slaughter. Bad-tempered people love killing. A member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), who works in the highest academic institute, suggested the National Committee of the Chinese People's Representatives enact "Law on Traitors' Speech". He argued that some scholars, in the name of academic research, distorted history, justified the invasion of China by the Eight Powers' Alliance Army, and particularly defended the Japanese invastion of China. So legal measures and heavy punishment are needed.

I have been working in the field of modern history for years. I have never crossed any "line". I have never heard that anyone in this field has done something like this. There are some Japanese scholars doing so. Yet, China's law could not punish them. The purpose of this CPPCC member is to target some scholars in China he hates. The crime they committed might be that their research did not follow the tone set by him.

Is there any need to set a tone for academic research? Under this tone, all people are supposed to conduct research in a very limited framework. Anybody out of it is classified as traitor subject to academic critique and legal punishment. Some people really want to take out these "traitors". I believe no scholar would agree with this measure. However, this CPPCC member, with the title of researcher and professor from the highest academic institute, rolled up his sleeves and spoke out his ideas loudly. Probably some scholars should be renamed as "academic punisher".

Historical research should be based on evidence. Traditional historians compared themselves to experienced official judge. In today's words, she/he acts like a judge who bases all of his remarks on evidence. If she/he does not agree with others' reasoning or argument, she/he needs to refute it with evidence even though she/he really wants to comment. Otherwise, this would become abuse, personal attack, and political labelling. Such kind of labelling, no matter how many people echo and how high is the volume, is doomed to be failure. In fact, this CPPCC member is no longer able to act like those in "Cultural Revolution". At that time he would have brought the scholars he hated to the people's meeting, and then put a tall hat on his/her head, stroke him/her down and stepped on his/her body. Now he needs to resort to law beside using abusive language. However, there is no law punishing academic research. That is why he came up with the suggestion of "Law on Traitor's Speech".

The history of imperialist invasion of China is an objective fact which had happened in the past. But one needs to study this fact seriously. With every piece of details, one tries to figure out the original picture of history. One has to explore the reasons and historical background objectively. We should not just criticize imperialism and condemn the crime without further investigation. Like the study of the massacre of Jews by Israelis, our study should go into every detail such as the profile of each victim. Setting a tone to criticize was not, is not and will not be qualified as a research. Academic research should at least allow people to speak out rather than labelling or even bringing people to the court. Research should not be conducted like this.

I wish this member not be an "academic killer" and his highest academic institute not be an "academic court". Otherwise, there is hope for China's academy.

The name of that member is Yu Quanyu (喻權域).



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