Blind Legal Activist Chen Guangcheng Confirms Chinese Government Has Pressured NYU to Boot Him Out
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NEW YORK, June 17, 2013 /Christian Newswire
/ -- Confirming news reports that New York University has been pressured by the Chinese government to give him the boot, blind Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng said Sunday that China's Communist leadership has infiltrated U.S. academia and is threatening academic freedom and independence.
China Aid Photo: Chen Guangcheng
Chen, who grabbed headlines a year ago when he escaped long-term illegal house arrest in his hometown and took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, said in a formal statement released by his lawyers, "The work of the Chinese Communists within academic circles in the United States is far greater than what people imagine."
Chen said that the Chinese government has been pressuring the university since the beginning of the 2012 academic year.
"As early as last August and September, the Chinese Communists had already begun to apply great, unrelenting pressure on New York University, so much so that after we had been in the United States just three to four months, NYU was already starting to discuss our departure with us," he said.
In recent days, the university told Chen, his wife and their two children that they must vacate their university housing by the end of June, and if they had not located alternate housing, they would simply have to move into a hotel.
"Academic independence and academic freedom in the United States are being greatly threatened by a totalitarian regime," Chen said.
Nonetheless, he expressed gratitude to the university, saying, "I'm very grateful to NYU for its help when my family was in a difficult period," and thanking NYU law professor Jerome Cohen by name. "We thank Professor Cohen and other friends for trying their best to help us. This assistance has allowed us to have a smooth transition to the United States," he said.
ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu, who has long championed Chen's cause, confirmed his observation of Chinese government pressure on U.S. academia, saying, "American universities are out chasing the China dollar and are very reluctant to work with dissidents who have a strong voice in China. It does not always have to be direct pressure from Beijing, there is also self- censorship, particularly if a college president believes their China campus or the future enrollment of Chinese students will be sabotaged."
Fu expressed dismay that these American universities are not living up to their reputation among Chinese. "This is unfortunate because U.S. institutions that welcome dissidents are seen as havens of religious freedom and free speech and will be more attractive to Chinese young people who can't experience these freedoms at home."
But, he added, "The Communist Party may have political control, but it does not control the hearts and minds of the Chinese people, who still look to the United States as a shining example of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. Hopefully, Chen's experience with NYU will not dim that view."
Recently, there have been some reports that my family and I are leaving New York University, and friends both in China and elsewhere abroad are very concerned about this. So I want to especially thank my friends. At the same time, I want to explain a few things with regard to what's happened:
1. It is true that New York University has asked us to leave before the end of June.
2. In fact, as early as last August and September, the Chinese Communists had already begun to apply great, unrelenting pressure on New York University, so much so that after we had been in the United States just three to four months, NYU was already starting to discuss our departure with us.
3. The work of the Chinese Communists within academic circles in the United States is far greater than what people imagine, and some scholars have no option but to hold themselves back. Academic independence and academic freedom in the United States are being greatly threatened by a totalitarian regime.
4. I'm very grateful to NYU for its help when my family was in a difficult period and for its good support of us when we first arrived in the United States. We thank Professor Cohen and other friends for trying their best to help us. This assistance has allowed us to have a smooth transition to the United States. For this, we have always wanted to thank the president of NYU in person. Regrettably, to date, we still have not had the chance to meet him. Although NYU has arranged many of our activities, to date, it has not arranged a meeting for us with the president. Therefore, I can only show my gratitude to him in this way.
5. China's Communist rulers hope to use these means to disturb our normal life, and even want to make me so busy trying to earn a living that I don't have time for human rights advocacy, but this is not going to happen. Whether it was the dangers I faced in China or the current momentary difficulties we face, I will never bow my head to evil or to lies. I will always do everything I can for my compatriots back in China who still are not free and who are now being oppressed.