Chongyi Feng, Australian academic banned from leaving China, told not to talk

Associate professor Chongyi Feng from the University of Technology Sydney, who has been twice prevented from leaving China to return to Australia. Photograph: University of Technology Sydney

Associate professor questioned about human rights research says he does not know when he will be able to leave

An Australian academic researching human rights and barred from leaving China by state security agents on suspicion of endangering national security has been told not to reveal the details of his ordeal.

Chongyi Feng, a professor at the University of Technology Sydney, was stopped twice at immigration checkpoints at the weekend while attempting to take flights to Australia from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, his lawyer said. He has not been formally detained or arrested and is still living at his hotel with his wife.

Feng’s interrogation came in the middle of a high-profile, five-day visit by the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, to Australia – the first by a Chinese premier in 11 years. Li was pushing closer trade ties and cautioned his hosts on picking sides between the US and China in a return to “cold war” mentality.

When reached by phone at his hotel, Feng, 56, was tight-lipped about his current situation, saying only he had been advised not to talk to the media, but did say he was unsure when he would be able to return to Australia.

“State security is questioning him about who he met while in China, about human rights lawyers,” Chen Jinxue, a friend and Feng’s lawyer, said. “They want to know more about his research into human rights lawyers and he has been barred from leaving China on suspicion of harming national security.”

Since he was stopped at the airport, Feng has been repeatedly questioned by national security officers. He was born in China and is a permanent resident in Australia but not a citizen, Chen said.

China’s human rights attorneys have faced a series of crackdown in recent years, beginning with a nationwide sweep in 2015 that netted about 250 lawyers and activists. Under the president, Xi Jinping, the Chinese government has increased restrictions on expression and stepped up efforts to silence critics both at home and abroad.

Feng was headed back to Australia after three weeks conducting field research in China. He had previously been questioned by police while in another city, Kunming, his lawyer said.

“Australia doesn’t really do enough for human rights,” said John Hugh, a spokesman for the Australian Values Alliance, who has been in contact with Feng. “Quite a few politicians focus more on the economic exchange and short-term gains, rather than standing by our principles.”

Feng was a member of the Australian Values Alliance, a group of Chinese people “advocating for safeguarding democracy, human rights, equality and freedom”. The group is calling on the Australian government to help secure Feng’s release.

The University of Technology Sydney has also spoken to Feng and is supporting his daughter.

“We have been in regular contact with Dr Feng, including as recently as this morning. He is well and in good spirits,” Greg Welsh, a spokesman for Feng’s university said. “We understand the Australian Government is taking the matter up although there are diplomatic constraints due to the fact that Professor Feng is not an Australian citizen and was travelling on his Chinese passport.”

Feng has long been involved in research over China’s political future and has advocated for liberalisation of the current Communist-controlled system. He has also spoken out against Chinese government attempts to exert influence over Australia’s Chinese community, especially through Chinese-language media.

Sydney academic stranded in China may have upset authorities, friend says

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“Since Xi Jinping came to office, he has not only failed to lead China forward in reform and opening up and constitutional government, he has made an historical U-turn,” he wrote last year in response to the 2015 crackdown on rights lawyers. “He has restored totalitarian values and destroyed existing achievements in the rule of law.”

Feng was also critical of a planned series of concerts last year in Sydney and Melbourne commemorating the 40th anniversary of the death of revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reiterated its previous response that it could only provide consular assistance to Australian citizens.

“However, the government is monitoring developments closely and has raised this case with senior Chinese officials,” a spokeswoman said.

Source: The Guardian “Chongyi Feng, Australian academic banned from leaving China, told not to talk”

Note: This is The Guardian’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

6 Comments on “Chongyi Feng, Australian academic banned from leaving China, told not to talk”

  1. Steve says:

    China is not a democratic nation, any reforms to policies should be done within Government and not by externally subversive groups such as Chongyi Feng. Externalist governments like the US, UK, Australia, etc are noted for their troublemaking and inflammatory remarks against the CCP.

    Feng is an Australian academic researching into human rights, he is a permanent resident of Australia with a view of becoming an Australian citizen. If Feng is serious about human rights and being an Australian permanent resident, he should look into Australia’s unlawful invasion of Syria, a sovereign nation including Libya after the US sponsored genocide invasion of Iraq from 2002 to 2012. Millions of citizens have being slaughtered and refugees displaced. Australia has its hands soaked in human blood in the Vietnam and gulf wars.


    • Fugu says:

      Yes, more productive if he research into American war crimes and human abuses and gross human rights abuses in Yemen, Syria, Libya, and ALL the Far Eastern countries before and after WW II. In particular, research further into the names of ALL the Japanese war criminals especially the scientists who got away with murder because of Washington’s double dealing and double crossing. Here is where injustice has been done and grossly too. The individual pyschos and psychopaths MUST be arrested and hauled to account for their crimes. They CANNOT be allowed to die peacefully in bed nor die with a good name.


      • Steve says:

        Democracy is the scourge of mass genocide of living beings and displacement of refugees. From the Vietnam genocide to the gulf war, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen. These wars are US sponsored genocide. On the pretext of freedom of democracy, WMD, undemocratic policies, the US and its western allies of UK, France, Australia invade sovereign countries to change foreign governments policies suited to the Western powers. Millions of civilians slaughtered, oilfields looted, declined economy of sovereign nations, poverty stricken nations of untold sufferings, terrorist activities and so on.

        China should never be hoodwinked into the so called freedom of democracy. In reality there is no freedom, no discipline. Insofar, it has been the freedom of lies, deceit, chaos and anarchy.


  2. Simon says:

    Is he Australian? Look Chinese to me!


    • Joseph says:

      He is Australian, all right. A naturalized dual citizen. Unfortunately for him that China does not recognize dual citizenship. After all the dumb things he wrote on Sydney Morning Herald, he is still dumb enough to go to China with his old Chinese passport and blabbing to be invincible ‘Australian’ in his native Guangzhou, most likely for some misguided White-centric prestige. Too bad his legal travel documents show him to be a Chinese citizen than an Australian. He has only himself to blame. This idiot is safer going to London Chinatown than to China. UK recognizes Australian self-imposed dual citizenship, China does not. And neither do most of East and South East Asian countries. This dual citizen fools are better to stay put where they are.


      • Simon says:

        He is not Australian, he has residency but is not a citezen. He also re-entered China from Australia using his Chinese passport, that makes him Chinese. I think theere is a couple of reason why he entered China with his Chinese passport.
        1. he does not have an Australian passport, he his Chinese.
        2. he want to enter back to China without alerting the authority as a Chinese otherwise foreign passport holder would. I think he is upto something and China was right to detain its own citizen a threat to national security.