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China Infiltrates American Academia

Chen Guangcheng (Photo courtesy China Aid)

China is demanding that the United States explain its internet monitoring and hacking activities, but perhaps the American people are due an explanation from China about it's efforts to threaten academic freedom at one of our country's most nororious universities.

Blind Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng has been given the boot from New York University. He claims the Chinese government pressured the university into demanding that he leave his position.

Chen escaped China last year after enduring months of house arrest and abuse. A diplomatic tug of war ensued when he fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Eventually he was allowed to leave China and was granted a visa to the United States and a fellowship at NYU.

Why won't Chen be allowed back at NYU for the next semester?

Apparently NYU is getting ready to open a school in Shianghai this fall. Perhaps Chen's dismissal is an attempt by the university to gain favor with the Chinese government in advance of that school opening.

But NYU denies China pressured it to dismiss Chen. It says it had only agreed to retain him for one year. That year has now been completed.

Regardless, this isn't the first time NYU has been caught up in a China controversy. Last month, three NYU researchers (funded by the federal government) were charged with conspiring to accept bribes from a Chinese company interested in obtaining information about magnetic resonance imaging technology.

As for Chen, he says the Chinese government began unrelenting pressure on NYU last August when he had been "in the United States just three to four months." That's when "NYU was already starting to discuss our departure with us."

Chen says, "The work of the Chinese Communists within academic circles in the United States is far greater than what people imagine."

Here's Chen's complete statement:

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.

Thank you!

Chen Guangcheng

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