No country for academics: Chinese crackdown forces intellectuals abroad…

Political scientists and law experts flee to America as Beijing’s grip on freedoms in China intensifies under President Xi Jinping

Many academics feel there is no longer a place for them in president Xi Jinping’s increasingly repressive China.
Many academics feel there is no longer a place for them in president Xi Jinping’s increasingly repressive China. Photograph: Rolex Dela Pena/EPA

As Chinese activist and scholar Teng Biao sat at home on the east coast of America, more than 13,000km (8,000 miles) away his wife and nine-year-old daughter were preparing to embark on the most dangerous journey of their lives.

“My wife didn’t tell my daughter what was going on,” said Teng, who had himself fled China seven months earlier to escape the most severe period of political repression since the days following the Tiananmen massacre in 1989.

“She said it was going to be a special holiday. She told her they were going on an adventure.”

One year after their dramatic escape through southeast Asia, Teng’s family has been reunited in New Jersey and is part of a fast-growing community of exiled activists and academics who feel there is no longer a place for them in Xi Jinping’s increasingly repressive China.

Jerry Cohen, a veteran China expert who has offered help to many of the new arrivals, said he had seen a significant spike in the number of Chinese scholars such as Teng seeking refuge in the US last year.

Until about 12 months ago China’s top universities “remained islands of relative freedom”, said Cohen, who has studied the Asian country for nearly six decades.

“[Now] I think there is much more attention to what you teach, what materials you use, what you say in class, what you can write and publish, whom you can contact, where you get your support. I think a lot of people are just getting disillusioned and feel at least for a few years they’d better ride out the Xi Jinping storm [overseas].”

Read more:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/24/academics-china-crackdown-forces-intellectuals-abroadhttps://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/24/academics-china-crackdown-forces-intellectuals-abroad

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