Harvard University canceled a human rights event after it realized that the university’s president was supposed to be attending a meet-and-greet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing at the same time. 

In 2015 the university was set to host a panel on the Hong Kong protests led by Teng Biao, a former fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s human rights center. However, a vice dean at Harvard Law School ordered Biao to cancel the event, saying that would be “embarrassing” for university due to president’s meeting with Xi, according to a report published on Monday, May 4, by the Washington Free Beacon. 

“He called me into his office and he told me that the Harvard president was meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping,” Teng, a human right lawyer, who fled China after he was kidnapped and tortured by government authorities for participating in the 2014 Hong Kong protests told the Free Beacon.

“It seems that for Harvard leaders, it was very embarrassing if we had a talk at Harvard about human rights issues in China when the Harvard president just came back from China after meeting with the Chinese president,” he added.

Professor William P. Alford, a vice dean at the Harvard Law School had brought Teng to Harvard and also ordered Teng to cancel the event, arguing that could have impacted the university’s activities on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

As the outlet reported, the CCP has gifted a whooping amount of money to Western universities, including Harvard. Because of its ties with the CCP and the $93 million it has received since 2013, the university has restrained academic freedom and free speech when it comes to the CCP.

“Academic freedom should be an important principle of Harvard or any universities,” Teng said. “I was shocked when I saw this obvious self-censorship by Harvard. The Chinese government’s increasing influence on American universities is really alarming.”

Harvard has been under scrutiny due to its ties with the CCP. As the CCP Virus outbreak started extending beyond China’s borders in January to invade other countries, Charles Lieber, chairman of the Harvard chemistry department, was arrested for concealing his ties to the CCP.

According to the criminal indictment, Lieber received $50,000 a month in salary, up to $158,000 in annual expenses, and more than $1.5 million to start a research lab at the Wuhan University of Technology (WUT). Lieber was a contractual participant in the CCP’s Thousand Talents Plan, which was launched in 2008 to recruit foreign scientists.

In February, the Department of Education launched an investigation into Harvard and Yale universities, citing concerns that two elite education institutions might have failed to reported hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign gifts and contracts.