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NYU-Shanghai Chancellor Appears in Chinese Propaganda Video Downplaying Lockdown Severity
Meanwhile, an NYU Chinese studies professor alleged in a recent email to faculty that students were committing suicide.
Despite the Chinese Communist Party’s best efforts to censor the abuses coming out of Shanghai’s extremely strict and draconian lockdown in response to rising COVID cases, news stories have still emerged chronicling the extreme measures taken to keep citizens in line.
Beyond the food shortages caused by the lockdown, video and images show police storming residential areas, dragging people out of their homes, “brawling with residents,” and wrestling people to the ground. The Guardian recently reported on how an elderly nursing home resident was put in a body bag after mistakenly being declared dead. Shanghai residents have protested the grueling lockdown measures enacted by the government.
But if you watched a recent video featuring NYU-Shanghai Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Lehman, you would think things aren’t that bad. That was at least Lehman’s tone in a recent propaganda clip released by the Chinese media agency Xinhua. In the video Lehman says, “I am very proud of how positive and resilient our community has been during the B.A. 2 variant wave in Shanghai.”
Lehman’s demeanor in this video stands in sharp contrast to his message from an April 11 Zoom call to faculty, saying, “We have about 20 employees and vendors who have been trapped on campus or in the dorm room for weeks now unable to go home.”
Another faculty member on the call said, “I’m assuming that a great many people associated with NYU and in Shanghai are experiencing food shortages. People in my building are without food. And I live in a very upscale neighborhood. The whole distribution of food has been shut down.”
According to the New York Post, NYU Chinese studies professor Rebecca Karl recently alleged in an email to faculty that students were committing suicide: “I have heard that there have been several suicides among the students already, all of it swept under the rug for the sake of NYU’s reputational convenience. Students are suffering. Many faculty are as well.”
Whether Lehman was forced or felt compelled to say positive things about the lockdown experience in the video remains to be seen, and we may never know what prompted him to appear. Regardless, given the news stories emerging about the situation there, the video should raise alarm among higher education leaders in the U.S.