China’s ruling Communist Party has expelled a retired professor who denounced President Xi Jinping and accused him of provoking conflict with India and other countries to divert the attention of the public from economic and social problems, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.

Cai Xia had taught democratic politics at the Central Party School of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing for 15 years before her retirement. The school, which trains officials destined for promotion, announced on Monday that it had rescinded Cai’s Communist Party membership after her comments that had “serious political problems and damaged the country’s reputation”, according to South China Morning Post. Her speeches were of “extraordinarily execrable nature” and violated the political discipline of the party, a notice on the school’s website said.

A recording of Cai describing the Chinese president a “mafia boss” and a “political zombie” who turned the party into his personal tool had emerged in June. She also called for an “overhaul of a wide range of domestic and foreign policies” of the country. It is not clear where, when or to whom she was speaking.

In an interview with The Guardian in June, the 68-year-old criticised Xi and the Chinese leadership. “You can see the confrontation between China and the United States,” she said. “He has made the world an enemy. At home, all these big issues are left to him to decide. Whether it is a domestic or international issue, it is very difficult for others to restrict him. It is inevitable that his judgment and decisions will be mistaken.”

On why the president would make China an enemy of the world, Cia stated several factors. “Among them is that he wants to consolidate his own position and authority,” she added. “Considering domestic economic and social tensions, as well as those in the party of the last few years, he will think of ways to divert the attention of the Chinese public, provoking conflict with other countries, for example encouraging anti-American sentiment and the recent clash between China and India.”

Tensions between India and China increased after the Ladakh clashes on June 15, in which 20 Indian soldiers and an unconfirmed number of their Chinese counterparts were killed. Since the clashes, several rounds of talks have been held between the commanders of the two armies to work out details of disengagement from the stand-off areas.

Cia is the third prominent figure in recent months to be punished for criticising Xi. Last month, a law professor at Beijing’s Tsinghua University who criticised Xi and the party was detained by the police and then fired. Reports said the professor, Xu Zhangrun, is seeking to clear his name by overturning a prostitution charge brought against him. Ren Zhiqiang, who had been the chairperson of a state property company, was also removed from the Communist Party after he derided Xi’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and also called him a “clown”.