Chinese economist Mao Yushi (茅于轼), a public intellectual known as a strong proponent of political reform and a vocal critic of the legacy of Maoism, has become the latest liberal figure this year to be heckled by leftists during a public appearance.
Mao Yushi was delivering a talk in Shenyang Thursday at the invitation of the Liaoning Association of Industry and Commerce when two scholars objected to statements they felt were slights against Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought. According to a post by Peking University professor Kong Qingdong (孔庆东), the scholars included Wang Xinnian (王新年), the deputy secretary of the provincial-level Party Historical Society (辽宁省党史学会).
[ABOVE: Economist Mao Yushi often speaks his mind on the legacy of Mao Zedong and the problems of China’s current political system. That makes him unpopular with those at the far-left end of the political spectrum.]
The spat (or interruption?) apparently escalated to the point that the hosts of the event called the police. Exactly what happened after is still not entirely clear. In a Weibo post at 11:23am, Kong Qingdong, a critic known for his nationalist and anti-Western remarks, alleged that the two dissenting scholars had been “forced into a police vehicle and taken away.”
But police in Shenyang, who confirmed that they had been called to deal with a disturbance at the conference hall in the Liaoning Building, said the incident ended with “those involved leaving of their own accord.”
Here is the post made at 4:48pm yesterday from the official Sina Weibo account of the Shenyang Public Security Bureau, “Shenyang City PSB” (沈阳市公安局):
At around 9am on April 25, our bureau received a report that some persons at the conference hall in the Liaoning Building were making a fuss (闹事) and disturbing the public order. On the scene, police ascertained that due to problems stemming from an academic [dispute], a certain Mr. Mou (牟某) and a certain Mr. Wang (王某) were engaged in an intense dispute with [invited] speaker Mr. Mao and related employees. In order to mitigate tensions and preserve order, the police made repeated and unsuccessful attempts to persuade [the parties]. Finally, at the suggestion that the parties head to the police substation for further mediation, the two sides finally eased off their tensions, and those involved later left of their own accord.
In a post made to Sina Weibo at around 1pm, Ma Jiming (马霁明微博), a self-described “defender of Mao Zedong Thought,” wrote angrily:
On April 25, Mao Yushi publicly carried out anti-CCP propaganda in Shenyang. When scholars on the scene called him to task, Mao used law enforcement organs to have the dissenting scholars seized. They were later let go, but this kind of conduct is worthy of reflection by the entire Party and the whole of society. What organization invited Mao Yushi and prepared his anti-Party speech? Who orchestrated this and supported it behind the scenes? Do they dare to use the mechanisms of the state to violently protect the anti-Party scholar Mao Yushi? Government organs in Shenyang should explain themselves to the Central Party and to our society!
This isn’t the first time Mao Yushi has provoked the ire of the leftist camp. In May 2011, leftists in Shanxi province gathered to denounce him following his open criticism of Mao Zedong’s legacy in an article run on the website of Caixin.
During his book signing tour in January this year, celebrity blogger and writer Li Chengpeng was was repeatedly heckled by leftists objecting to his ideas.