The Chinese Communist Party threatens student’s voice

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) critic and philosophy student Drew Pavlou received a letter from one of Australia’s top law firms, on behalf of the Queensland University (UQ), to take down a Twitter post he made in support of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement. Whilst the initial attempt from UQ to silence Pavlou was successful, he continued to be vocal about China and hold pro-democracy protests. 

Pavlou has also been critical of UQ’s close links with the CCP, including four CCP-funded UQ courses which, according to Pavlou, “present a party-approved version of Chinese history to students, glossing over human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, and mainland China”.  

This has landed him in hot waters. UQ has tried to expel him, and have charged him with multiple accounts of misconduct which, according to one student, told Pavlou the charges were “trivial; some are risible. In the context of the University’s documented discomfort with your political activism — especially your highlighting of links between the University, its Vice-Chancellor and various arms of the Chinese Communist Party — I can only read the threat of expulsion as an attempt to silence legitimate political activism on the campus”. 

On Friday 29th of May, Pavlou announced on Twitter that he was “expelled [from UQ] for two years.” However, he announced that he is “immediately appealing to the Australian Supreme Court” over the “overly bias” decision against him.  

In Foreign Policy, Palou wrote “[This is] an attempt to intimidate students into self-censorship. Already, I know dozens of students at UQ, who have told me they cannot join me in my activism for fear of university reprisals. If I lose the case and have my enrolment voided, who will dare speak out again?” 

UQ has explained that the decision was based on disciplinary biases via student complaints, and not “to penalise him for airing his political beliefs”.  Therefore, they believe it is not a violation of his freedom of speech.  

On the other hand, people such as Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University, Clive Hamilton have said that “He didn’t harm anyone, he didn’t damage property, and so it’s disturbing the way UQ has manufactured these infringements of a string of university policies and principles”. 

By Leo He