A liberal Chinese economist says he believes the prestigious Peking University terminated his contract for political reasons, including his support for democratic reforms and the rule of law.
In interviews with Western news organizations, Xia Yeliang said he received notice on Friday that the university will not renew his contract when it expires at the end of January.
The 53-year-old professor said a Peking University faculty committee meeting approved his dismissal by a vote of 30 in favor, with three opposed and one abstention.
Xia has been a vocal advocate for democracy in Communist-ruled China. He was a signatory of "Charter 08," a 2008 petition by Chinese activists calling for political reforms in the one-party state.
China jailed the petition's main organizer, Liu Xiaobo, for 11 years. Liu later won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Xia said Peking University officials denied terminating his job for political reasons. But, he said he believes he is being punished for his pro-democracy views. University authorities have said his performance as a teacher was a concern.
Xia's position at Peking University has been the subject of weeks of speculation in Chinese social media and has attracted attention from international academics.
More than 130 faculty members at Wellesley College in the U.S. state of Massachusetts signed a petition last month urging college administrators to reconsider ties with Peking University if it fired Xia.
U.S. and other foreign universities have rushed to set up partnerships with Chinese universities to gain access to the country's huge education market.