Relationships between teachers and students have become a problem in China's higher education. (Representational Image)
A Chinese university professor has called for a ban on romance between teachers and students in campuses, much on the lines of some of the US universities, drawing sharp criticism from students and netizens.
Yan Yiming, a professor of the Beijing Institute of Technology has said that relations between teachers and students have become a problem in Chinese higher education, according to an article published in China Youth Daily on Monday.
He called for an "explicit ban on romance between teachers and students."
"It's already common sense in the US that teachers and students should not develop romantic relations," Yan said in his article.
But compared with their US counterparts, the Chinese public has shown more tolerance of teacher-student romance, with 90 per cent of netizens believing that "free love" should not be banned on campus, a report in the state-run Global Times said today.
Some netizens have cited the student-teacher romance of well-known figures as evidence, including early 20th century writer Lu Xun, who had a son with one of his students.
Li Yinhe, a leading Chinese sexologist, told the paper that the US rules on the subject "mainly target the potential for sexual harassment."
Meanwhile, a commentary published by the Beijing Times yesterday wrote that the ban on teacher-student romances at many of the US universities is derived from feminist theories that hold a dominant position in the US society.
On the other hand, China has its own traditions that have shaped its people's understanding of love, the commentary claimed, saying it is thus inappropriate to directly copy Western methods.
Several student-teacher sexual relationships have made headlines in recent years, including the case of a teacher in Nanjing university who harassed 14 female students and forced some of them to take half-naked pictures, the Beijing Youth Daily reported in March.
"When it comes to power, students are relatively vulnerable and may be harmed in the relationship," Li Yinhe said.
"A ban should be imposed on teachers' sexual harassment of students, rather than on affection between teachers and students," Li said, adding that love between students and teachers should be respected but is better left to develop after the student graduates.
According to a regulation on teachers' professional ethics released by China's Ministry of Education in 2014, teachers are forbidden from sexually harassing or having "improper relations" with students. But the regulation does not specify whether romances constitute improper relations.