- Rory Truex, an assistant professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, told students not to take his course on Chinese politics if they currently reside in China.
- Truex told the Daily Princetonian the course covers subjects the Chinese government may consider sensitive and could endanger students.
- American academics fear for their Chinese students in the wake of China’s increasingly bold crackdown on political dissent at home and abroad.
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China’s tightening grip on dissent is reaching American universities.
Rory Truex, an assistant professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, advised students enrolled in his course on Chinese politics not to take the course if they currently reside in China, the Daily Princetonian reported.
“As you might expect, the course contains material that the Chinese government would find sensitive. This, coupled with the fact that we are remote, and that China’s new National Security Law has some sweeping provisions, means that we need to be a little more cautious this year,” Truex told students on Friday, according to the Daily Princetonian, the university’s independent student newspaper.
Truex didn’t respond immediately to Insider’s request for comment, and a message sent to Princeton’s media relations team wasn’t immediately returned.
Truex’s course covers subjects banned in China like the Tiananmen Square Massacre and the Cultural Revolution. The Chinese government has previously undertaken extensive efforts to censor discourse on both, including cracking down on social media discussions and handing out lengthy prison sentences to activists.
In August, Truex issued a warning for students in China considering his course, the Wall Street Journal reported. He wasn’t the only one. Amid rising concerns regarding remote learning in China, American academics across the country flagged courses they believed may be sensitive or dangerous for students in China to take in light of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law.
Those academics took steps to protect the identities of their students, including assigning students codes instead of using names, banning the recording of lectures, and editing students’ faces out of school-recorded lectures.
Hong Kong’s new National Security Law could have “sweeping” consequences on pro-democracy efforts and free speech in the territory. It also signers a broader shift by the ruling Communist Party towards more explicit crackdowns on political dissent across the mainland and abroad.
Truex emphasized that students who decide not to take his course while in China should take it in-person, or set up an individualized study with him. But as remote learning extends through 2021, the window of opportunity for those students to study subjects banned in China is narrowing.