Blind Chinese human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng, who was allowed to travel to the United States after taking sanctuary in its embassy in Beijing, says that New York University is forcing him and his family to leave at the end of this month because of pressure from the Chinese government.
The university denied Mr. Chen’s allegations, which were reported Monday by The Associated Press.
Mr. Chen said in a statement to the AP that China’s Communist Party had been applying “great, unrelenting pressure” on NYU to ask him to leave, though he did not provide details or evidence to back his claim.
“The work of the Chinese Communists within academic circles in the United States is far greater than what people imagine,” he said. “Academic independence and academic freedom in the United States are being greatly threatened by a totalitarian regime.”
An NYU spokesman said the university was “discouraged” by Mr. Chen’s statement, saying his fellowship there was always meant to be a one-year position that had simply concluded as planned, and that school officials have been talking with him for months about what his next step might be.
Spokesman John Beckman told the AP that the university began talking to the Chens “not because of some fictional ‘pressure’ from China, but so that they could use the months to make their transition a smooth one.”
An official from China’s Foreign Ministry also rejected the claims by Mr. Chen on Monday morning, telling CBS they weren’t sure “whether the information you got is wrong, or whether Chen Guangcheng is fabricating something.”
Mr. Chen sparked a diplomatic crisis between China and the U.S. last year when he fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing from house arrest in provincial China. Since last May, he’d been a special student at NYU’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute. He has been working on a book due out later this year.