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Chinese Dissident Claims NYU is Forcing Him to Leave
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A controversial Chinese dissident, Chen Guangcheng, claims he is being forced to leave his legal fellowship with New York University on account of pressure from the Chinese government. NYU recently opened a campus in Shanghai and collaborates on research and programs with China, but the university claims that Chen’s fellowship has reached its agreed upon conclusion and that they have treated him outstandingly during his time with the school.

Chen, a blind legal advocate who made international headlines when he escaped from house arrest and fled to the American Embassy in Beijing, was invited to NYU for a fellowship late last year. The school claims that the fellowship was always meant to last a year, but Chen told the New York Times that he has been asked to leave the school due to pressure from the Chinese government. NYU recently opened a campus in Shanghai, and the ability of NYU students and professors to require visas is necessary for many of the school’s programs to thrive.

  
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Chen and his family have been living in an NYU-owned apartment since May 2012, and he claims that he was told to vacate the apartment by the end of June.

“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,” said Chen. “Academic independence and academic freedom in the United States are being greatly threatened by the totalitarian regime.”

NYU issued a statement in response to Chen’s claims, saying “We are very discouraged to learn of Mr. Chen’s statement, which contains a number of speculations about the role of the Chinese Government in NYU’s decision-making that are both false and contradicted by the well-established facts.” John Beckman, a spokesman for NYU, told the New York Times that while school officials were saddened by Chen’s accusations, they would continue to help Chen and his family.

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The New York Times reports that Jerome Cohen, a law professor at NYU that helped arrange Chen’s fellowship, says that the school has been exceedingly generous to Chen, and has provide him with transportation, security and private lessons in law and English. Cohen said that Chen has received better treatment than any other political refugee, even Albert Einstein.

Chen worked as an attorney in China, where he fought against the government’s coercive family planning policies. After escaping house arrest, Chen made a name for himself as an outspoken opponent of the Chinese government. With the knowledge that his time with NYU is ending, Chen has received employment offers from Fordham University and Princeton.



Image Credit: Brendan Mcdermid / Reuters



 

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