China has barred one of its citizens, a professor at an Australian university, from leaving the country. State officials suspect him of being a threat to national security, The New York Times reported.
The professor, Feng Chongyi, teaches at the University of Technology Sydney and often speaks out critically about Beijing’s response to political dissenters. Feng has been researching Chinese human rights lawyers, many of whom have been detained in recent years.
Feng was stopped by immigration officials while trying to board a flight back to Australia. Since then, he’s been in the southern city of Guangzhou, where he’s been questioned several times by Chinese national security officers.
The Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, was in Australia over the weekend for a visit regarding the countries’ trade relations.
Feng is a permanent resident of Australia, but not a citizen. That distinction, Australian officials said, prevents the country from assisting Feng in his release. The Embracing Australian Values Alliance, which promotes free speech and the independence of ethnic Chinese living in Australia, has called for the Australian government to get involved in Feng’s case.
The university where Feng teaches has also been alerted to the issue and is helping the professor’s family.