NYU, Dissident Chen Guangcheng at Odds on Pressuring by China

Image: NYU, Dissident Chen Guangcheng at Odds on Pressuring by China Jan. 29, 2013 photo of Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, center, smiling after receiving the 2012 Tom Lantos Human Rights Prize by actor Richard Gere, right, on Capitol Hill. Chen claimed Monday, June 17, that New York University is forcing him and his family to leave at the end of June because of pressure from the Chinese government.

Monday, 17 Jun 2013 02:26 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Blind dissident Chen Guangcheng is claiming that the long reach of the Chinese government may force him to leave New York University, Reuters reported Monday.

Chen sought asylum at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing after escaping house arrest a year ago. The incident created a diplomatic stalemate between the United States and China, according to Reuters. A deal was brokered, at that time, allowing Chen to travel with his wife and two children to the United States for study, said the Los Angeles Times.

New York University offered Chen a fellowship but has said the fellowship is about to come an end. Chen claimed that the university is bowing to pressure from the Chinese government.

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"In fact, 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 wrote, according to Reuters.

The university has denied the charges, saying that Chen's fellowship was never opened ended.

"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 said in a statement from NYU, according to the Los Angeles Times. "Mr. Chen’s fellowship at NYU and its conclusion have had nothing to do with the Chinese government. All fellowships come to an end."

In China, Chen was a civil rights and human rights stalwart, fighting for farmers and the disabled. Blind since childhood, he is a self-taught lawyer. Reuters said he exposed the practice of forced abortions in China before he was placed under house arrest in Shandong province.

He continued to be outspoken about human rights abuses after he arrived in the United States in 2012, Reuters reported.

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"NYU believes it has been generous in supporting this family, and we are puzzled and saddened to see these false claims directed at us," Beckman said in the university statement. "We will, nonetheless, continue to work with the Chens to help them with their transition."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told Reuters that Chen was making up China's role in NYU's decision.

Related stories:

China Calls Spy Claims Against Snowden 'Groundless'

Chinese Activist Chen Arrives in New York

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