international

China Blocks Would-Be Student From Leaving

The 18-year-old son of a prominent human rights lawyer in China who plans to study in Australia was barred from leaving China, The Australian reported. Government officials reportedly cut Bao Zhuoxuan’s passport at the Tianjin airport and told him that “your departure may jeopardize state security, so you’re not allowed to leave China.” Bao had planned to fly to Tokyo to stay with friends while he waited to hear on whether he would be accepted to the University of Melbourne. He completed high school in Australia and has offers from three other Australian universities. China's State Security Ministry did not respond to The Australian's inquiries. 

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Chinese Professor Says He Was Suspended From Teaching

An economics professor at China’s Guizhou University said he has been suspended and his undergraduate classes cancelled, Radio Free Asia reported. 

Yang Shaozheng said he was told by university administrators that his classes were cancelled due to “something he said” and that the order had come from “higher up.” He believes the suspension is connected with questioning he’s faced from police over “sensitive materials” he submitted to a publishing house.

 

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Hong Kong university commissions audit after being accused of submitting inaccurate numbers for rankings

A Hong Kong university is accused of underreporting enrollment numbers to boost its faculty-student ratio and ranking. The university says it is commissioning an independent audit but emphasizes that there are differences in data definitions.

Trump Intervenes on Behalf of UCLA Athletes

President Trump has intervened in the case of three University of California, Los Angeles, basketball players arrested in China for allegedly shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store, personally asking President Xi Jinping to help resolve their cases, The Washington Post reported. Xi said he would look into the case and make sure that the players are treated fairly and expeditiously. The White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, has reportedly been in contact with Chinese authorities as well as UCLA’s coach and the families of the players. The three players who were arrested -- LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley -- are all freshmen at UCLA. They had traveled to China with the men’s basketball team for a season-opening game against Georgia Institute of Technology in Shanghai.

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Australian Publisher Pulls Back Plans for China Book

An Australian publisher has backed away from plans to publish a book about the influence of the Chinese Communist Party on Australian politics and academe due to fear of potential legal action, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The book is titled Silent Invasion: How China Is Turning Australia Into a Puppet State, and the author is Clive Hamilton, a professor of public ethics at Charles Stuart University.

In an email to Hamilton, Robert Gorman, the chief executive of the publisher Allen & Unwin, wrote, "We have no doubt that Silent Invasion is an extremely significant book." But Gorman said he was concerned about "potential threats to the book and the company from possible action by Beijing," including the possibility of a "a vexatious defamation action against Allen & Unwin, and possibly against you personally as well."

"I'm not aware of any other instance in Australian history where a foreign power has stopped publication of a book that criticizes it," Hamilton told The Sydney Morning Herald.

"The reason they've decided not to publish this book is the very reason the book needs to be published," Hamilton said.

Allen & Unwin said in a statement to The Sydney Morning Herald, "Allen & Unwin has published a number of books with Clive Hamilton and has enormous respect for him and his work. After extensive legal advice, we decided to delay publication of Clive's book Silent Invasion until certain matters currently before the courts have been decided. Clive was unwilling to delay publication and requested the return of his rights, as he is entitled to do. We continue to wish him the best of luck with the book."

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Judith Butler discusses being burned in effigy and protested in Brazil

Outside a conference she helped organize, the noted philosopher and gender theorist was burned (as a witch) in effigy. She describes the opposition and the experience of being attacked in this way.

New Cuba Regs Shouldn't Stop Academic Travel

Experts expect new regulations on travel to Cuba published in the Federal Register to have limited effect on educational travel to the nation. The regulations restrict Americans from patronizing certain hotels and businesses deemed as controlled by the Cuban military, intelligence and security services and require that so-called “people-to-people” educational travel be conducted under the auspices of a U.S.-based tour group. However, the regulations continue to permit various forms of academic travel, such as for study abroad, academic research, and teaching at Cuban institutions. Educational travel to Cuba has been expanding since the regulations governing it were first loosened in 2011, and then again in 2014.

“Our reading of the regulations is that academic/educational travel should largely be unaffected by the new regulations, and we think that is really good, because for the whole time that relationships have been strained between Cuba and the United States academic exchanges and partnerships have been an important part of building understanding between the new nations,” said Jill Welch, the deputy executive director for public policy at NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

The regulations do impose a new requirement on some categories of educational travel that it be done “under the auspices of an organization that is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction.” They further specify that travelers either must be accompanied “by a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction who is an employee, paid consultant, agent, or other representative of the sponsoring organization” or, if they are traveling individually, that they obtain a letter from the sponsoring organization that states that:”(1) The individual is traveling to Cuba as an employee, paid consultant, agent, or other representative (including specifying the responsibilities of the individual that make him or her a representative) of the sponsoring organization; (2) the individual is acting for or on behalf of, or otherwise representing, the sponsoring organization; and (3) the individual's travel to Cuba is related to his or her role at the sponsoring organization.”

Welch said it is unclear at this point how feasible U.S. universities will find it to be to fulfill the new requirement.

 

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Conference Missing Some Russian Scholars

As the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies meets this week for its annual convention in Chicago, organizers estimate that they’re missing about 50 Russian scholars who were unable to get visas in time to participate. The conference has about 2,600 registrants, not including exhibitors, and organizers were originally expecting about 150 participants from Russia.

Lynda Park, the association's executive director, emphasized that 50 is a "ballpark" estimate of the number of Russian scholars who have contacted ASEEES about an inability to get visas.

In late August, the U.S. embassy in Moscow announced a reduction of nonimmigrant visa processing -- a category that includes visiting scholars -- in Russia in response to reduced staffing as a result of a Russian government-ordered cap on the number of U.S. diplomatic personnel in the country. Russia had ordered the reductions in American diplomatic personnel as a retaliatory response to sanctions against Russia imposed by the U.S. over Kremlin interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The U.S. is still conducting visa interviews in Moscow “at a reduced scale” but has indefinitely suspended all interviews at the consulates in St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg. The announcement regarding visa processing reductions and suspensions was made Aug. 21, before many scholars would have applied for visas to come to the U.S. for a November conference.

"We definitely had people cancel, but not a huge number," Park said. "We also had offered to do Skype participation for our Russian scholars with visa problems. We have never done that before, because we feel that the technology doesn’t always work and we think it's important for scholars to be on-site for scholarly exchange. But with this sort of crisis, really, we felt that we had to offer another means for them to participate, so we offered Skype participation or videoconferencing participation. We are doing probably only about 12 or 13 sessions that way; we have 650 sessions going on.”

What was particularly unfortunate, Park said, was that the association had obtained a small external grant to pay for more travel grants for Russian scholars -- some of whom, because of the inability to get a visa, were unable to use them.

“Hopefully, next year either this issue will be resolved and the U.S. embassies and consulates will have more staffing to process visas or -- barring that -- our members and participants will be better prepared to apply for visas much earlier,” Park said.

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Black faculty members will soon outnumber white professors at South Africa's universities

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Black academics will outnumber white academics within a decade. But progress has been greater at historically black institutions than predominantly white ones.

Detained Prince Is Major Donor to Universities

A Saudi prince who was among a group of royals and current and former government officials arrested this weekend is a major donor to Western universities, having made gifts of $20 million each to fund Islamic studies at Harvard and Georgetown Universities, Al-Fanar Media reported.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has also funded Islamic studies centers that bear his name at the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge, as well as centers for American studies at the American University of Beirut and the American University in Cairo. The stated missions for the centers describe themes of promoting mutual understanding between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds.

"It is paramount for both Islam and the West to reach mutual ground for proactive dialogue, respect, acceptance and tolerance," Prince Alwaleed said in a University of Edinburgh press release about his joint gift of 16 million pounds (about $20.9 million) to Edinburgh and Cambridge. "We are determined to continue building the bridge between Islam and the West for peace and humanity."

Prince Alwaleed was arrested as part of what Saudi officials describe as an anticorruption crackdown but which some view as a move by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to further consolidate his power, as The Washington Post has reported. The Post has published a profile of Prince Alwaleed, who in 2015 pledged to give away his entire approximately $30 billion fortune, here.

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