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Controversy continues to swirl around Louis Cha
Latest Updated by 2005-01-11 10:16:45

Louis Cha, China's most famous contemporary kung fu novelist based in Hong Kong, has caused controversy after offering his resignation as the dean and a tutor at the humanities faculty, Zhejiang University.

At the invitation of Zhang Junsheng, former deputy director of the Hong Kong Branch of Xinhua News Agency who later became secretary of the Party committee of Zhejiang University, Cha accepted the position of dean at the school's humanities faculty in 1999, not long after he gained admission by the school to tutor Ph.D candidates.

But in late December 2004, Zhejiang University sources confirmed that Cha had offered to resign as the college dean and tutor.

"I recruited a few Ph.D candidates at the humanities faculty, but they were not good enough. I have stopped tutoring them. Moreover, I have also offered to resign as the college dean," Cha made these remarks in an interview a month before the university sources confirmed his offer.

What has made the event look bizarre is that its impact has gone far beyond the university and Cha himself. With Cha a prominent bestselling author and the university being one of the most prestigious in China, it has stirred up a heated debate and got the media into a frenzy.

"My first thought on Cha's offer to resign was that he had done something right. The whole event (Cha's acceptance to be the dean and a tutor) is a mistake. Cha is a very good kung fu novelist. But he purposely shunned this title after he joined Zhejiang University and has emphasized that he researches history. But he has written few papers in this field. Neither has he published any important related articles in significant magazines. So it is a mistake," said Dong Jian, dean of the humanities faculty at Nanjing University, also one of China's top universities.

"The fact that he accepted the offer from Zhejiang University means he is either dishonest or short of self-respect. Now that he has offered to resign, I want to say he is nothing short of a chivalrous kung fu person," said Gu Xiaoming, a history professor at the prestigious Fudan University in Shanghai.

According to Xu Youyu, a research fellow of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Cha's offer to resign is a respectable act that means he knows himself. "He has sense of honor. When he found he could not do it, he refused it," he said.

But Xu also raised his worries that Zhejiang University might not let Cha resign. "The university may want to continue using his fame and not allow him to go," he said.

According to Ge Jianxiong, head of the Institute of Geography and History at Fudan University, nobody in China's history circles agrees that Cha is a history scholar. "We have also never heard that he has ever participated in any formal academic activities on history," he said.

"Louis Cha basically knows nothing of history education. Having him tutor Ph.D candidates will only mislead his students," said He Zhongli, a retired history professor of Zhejiang Univerisity.

There are also many people who ardently support Cha to be the dean and tutor. "Mr. Cha is a great scholar. It is only that his title as a kung fu novelist has overshadowed the fact that he is a scholar. I believe that he is the right person to be the humanities faculty dean at Zhejiang University," said Zhang Junsheng, secretary of the university's Party committee who took the initiative to hire Cha as the dean.

According to Zhang, the university is trying to persuade Cha to stay. It is possible that a compromise may be reached: Cha quits the job as the dean of the college of humanities but continues tutoring his students.

According to Xu Dai, deputy dean of the humanities faculty, the benefits Cha has brought to Zhejiang University is beyond measure. He was successful in inviting many great scholars from China and abroad to give lectures and hold international conferences at the university. As for the controversy surrounding Cha's offer to resign, Xu said: "You are controversial when you are alive. It is normal."

Yan Jiayan, a Chinese literature professor at Beijing University, is angry about the negative reports about Cha. "Cha's a well-versed history scholar. It's natural that someone doesn't know everything that has ever happened in history. Every history scholar has their own special field. Some said Cha made mistakes in his history lectures. It's unavoidable that a teacher sometimes makes mistakes in lecturing. I'm a teacher. I also made mistakesCha is a master at writing about history. It's absolute nonsense to say he's ignorant about history," he said.

A side wave of the controversy surrounding Cha's offer to resign is from some of the PH.D candidates he tutors. According to some reports, Cha at first praised them as "very talented, very good." But one year later, Cha said to media that they were "not good enough."

One female candidate Zhu Xiaozheng published a statement saying that Cha wanted to resign as a tutor because she had fought against his way of teaching. She said she wanted reconciliation with Cha. But according to one of the faculty's supervisors, Zhu had no substantial conflict with Cha and aimed to raise her own profile by making the statement.

Other students of Cha refused to make any comment.

Editor: Catherine

By:John Woo Source:szdaily web edition
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