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Chinese-born Australian Scholar Prevented from Leaving China

Over the weekend of 25 March, Feng Chongyi, a Chinese-born professor who has been teaching for over a decade at the University of Technology Sydney, was stopped at immigration checkpoints in Guangzhou while he was attempting to board a flight back to Australia. For a week, he was prevented from leaving China and remained in a hotel room, subject to interrogation by state security agents because of his alleged involvement in a threat to national security. He was allowed to leave the country on 1 April. Professor Feng, who is known for having repeatedly expressed critical views about the Chinese government and its political dealings in Australia, was in China to conduct research on weiquan lawyers during one of the worst crackdowns in years. The ‘incident’ happened while Prime Minister Li Keqiang was on an official visit in Australia to negotiate several trade deals, and when the Australian Parliament was on the verge of ratifying an extradition treaty long in the making with China. On 28 March, facing rising public concerns about China’s record of abuse of national security charges to quash political dissent, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called off the vote on the extradition treaty. This incident followed the disappearance of Lee Ming-cheh, a Taiwanese human rights activist, the week before. According to friends and relatives, on 19 March, Lee had boarded a flight from Taipei to Macau, but he never emerged from the arrivals gate. IF

(Sources: The Guardian; Reuters; The New York Times 1; The New York Times 2; The New York Times 3)

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