- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2020

BEIJING (AP) - A Chinese citizen who was working as a professor in Japan has been detained in China for alleged espionage and has confessed to spying and other unspecified wrongdoing, Beijing’s foreign ministry said Thursday.

Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the case against Yuan Keqin was backed up by “clear fact and conclusive evidence” and has been transferred to prosecutors.

“He confessed to the crime,” Geng said at a daily briefing. The case is being “processed according to law” and his legal rights are being “fully protected,” he said.

Yuan was a professor of East Asian political history at the Hokkaido University of Education in northern Japan. He has not been heard from by colleagues since last June, after he left to attend his mother’s funeral in China the previous month.

Chinese state security legislation is often extremely vague and can criminalize acts such as passing on research that could be retroactively labeled as confidential. Confessions are also widely relied on for convictions in lieu of hard evidence, and many who make them later say they were coerced through torture or threats.

China demands strict political loyalty both from academics and students who go abroad and closely monitors their work and social media postings for any content that could be considered subversive or disrespectful to the country’s Communist leadership.

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