Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng has now released a statement concerning his allegations that New York University is severing relations with him to curry favor with China’s oppressive Communist government and assure completion of a gleaming portal campus in Shanghai.
The statement, obtained Sunday night by The Daily Caller, is a humdinger. In addition to squarely accusing NYU of caving to Chinese pressure, the self-taught lawyer and famed human rights activist charges that a large number of American academics and academic institutions have become wrapped in the tentacles of China’s communist government.
“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,” Chen said. “Academic independence and academic freedom in the United States are being greatly threatened by a totalitarian regime.”
According to Chen, “as early as last August and September, the Chinese Communists had already begun to apply great, unrelenting pressure on New York University, so much so that after we had been in the United States just three to four months, NYU was already starting to discuss our departure with us.”
Chen, his wife and two children have been living in a housing complex for students and faculty at NYU since May 2012 when the U.S. State Department (under Hillary Clinton) negotiated their highly-publicized escape.
When he lived in China, Chen fought authorities on human rights issues, particularly in rural areas. He was an advocate for property rights, women’s rights and the plight of the poor. He also exposed an array of odious family-planning abuses related to China’s one-child policy.
Since arriving stateside, Chen, 41, has been primarily learning English, meetings with American professors and penning a memoir. At the end of June, though, he and his family will have to find a new place to crash. The most likely destination appears to be Fordham University School of Law.
Meanwhile, NYU functionaries say Chen’s on-campus stay was always going to be a temporary, one-year fellowship. They insist that the Shanghai campus is unrelated to the dissident’s expulsion. They also say they are providing assistance as he finds his next position. (RELATED: NYU allegedly tells blind Chinese activist to take a hike for sake of Shanghai campus deal)
“If there were outside pressure, why would we have taken him in the first place when his plight was on every front page in the world?” countered NYU spokesman John Beckman, according to the New York Post.
Chen’s supporters are skeptical.
“American universities are out chasing the China dollar and are very reluctant to work with dissidents who have a strong voice in China.” said activist Bob Fu, founder and president of Midland, Texas-based ChinaAid in a statement. “It does not always have to be direct pressure from Beijing, there is also self- censorship, particularly if a college president believes their China campus or the future enrollment of Chinese students will be sabotaged.”
According to NYU, the school’s Shanghai portal campus is its second international campus, joining NYU Abu Dhabi. “NYU Shanghai offers a study away option for students interested in a semester or year studying in this exciting business and cultural center,” trumpets the somewhat prestigious school’s website.
The Shanghai campus will be run in partnership with East China Normal University. The campus has been heralded — by NYU — as the world’s first jointly run, degree-granting Chinese-American university, notes the Los Angeles Times.
NYU has an endowment worth roughly $2.755 billion, which is roughly comparable to the entire annual gross domestic product of Guam.