Top historians in China are encouraged NOT to retireHistorians in the News
A person over the age of 80 will normally have long since retired. But if the job is a top mainland academic post, then retirement is a hard decision as such a role offers great power and benefits that usually too enticing to give up.
That's why the decision of 88-year-old Zhang Kaiyuan to retire from his position as a senior history professor at Huazhong Normal University in Wuhan has attracted widespread attention.
China's highest academic positions include members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences or the Chinese Academy of Engineering, or senior professors in liberal arts. Such titles, effectively held for life, are given to academics to honour scholastic achievements - just as in the West.
Top mainland academics enjoy competitive packages, on a par with that of a deputy minister, that include cars, houses, preferential medical treatment and a generous living allowance.
The rationale for such largesse goes beyond simply wishing to reward scholars. Such institutions know that employing acclaimed academics and senior professors can help them to secure lucrative benefits granted by the authorities, such as additional honours, funding or development projects. Therefore, even if some of the elderly academics ask to retire, their institutions usually reject their requests...