The News Scroll 30 March 2017  Last Updated at 7:23 pm | Source: PTI

Scholars urge China to let academic return to Australia

Scholars urge China to let academic return to Australia
outlookindia.com
1970-01-01T05:30:00+0530

Beijing, Mar 30 Dozens of scholars in Australia, the US, Britain and Hong Kong are urging Beijing to let a Sydney-based academic return home, warning that continued barring of his departure is raising concerns about the risks of conducting research in China.

Organisers of an open letter to President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang say more than 80 scholars have signed it so far, and it will be sent next week after the number of signatories is expected to exceed 100.

It calls for authorities to allow Feng Chongyi, an associate professor at the University of Technology Sydney, to return to Australia after he was preventing from doing so last week on suspicion of endangering national security.

Feng is a Chinese citizen and permanent resident of Australia, according to his lawyer. His case was cited earlier this week by politicians in Australia whose opposition over human rights concerns prompted the government to abandon efforts to seek ratification of an extradition treaty with China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said today that Chinese law enforcement authorities "while performing duties of safeguarding national security" prevented Feng going abroad.

"Feng Chongyi, as a Chinese citizen, is obliged to cooperate with the relevant investigation by Chinese authorities," Lu told reporters.

Feng had been wrapping up a three-week trip researching human rights lawyers. Since July 2015, authorities have questioned or detained hundreds of activists and independent legal professionals as part of a crackdown on civil society under President Xi. Some of the lawyers have been labeled threats to national security.

Rights groups and Western governments, including the US, have urged China to release the activists and lawyers. Activists say the crackdown is aimed at silencing critics of the ruling Communist Party in violation of the Chinese Constitution.

The open letter to China's top two leaders states that the signatories are "disturbed that a fellow researcher, who has dedicated himself to promote the understanding of and interest in China, has been prevented from returning to his home and workplace for no reason other than his conscientious work as a China Studies scholar.

"Such actions make it difficult for the rest of us to be confident in the research environment in China today, and do not contribute positively to the continued construction of open and productive higher education collaboration between China and the rest of the world.

Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds.
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