The blind Chinese dissident who made a high-profile escape from China last year says NYU, which offered him a fellowship upon his arrival in May 2012, is forcing him out because of "unrelenting pressure" from Chinese Communists. In a statement released yesterday, self-taught lawyer Chen Guangcheng alleged that "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."
NYU recently opened a campus in Shanghai, and the university depends on the Chinese government's cooperation in approving visas and research projects for its professors. And like other major universities, the tuition generated by Chinese students is nothing to sneeze at; according to the NY Times, "many colleges have grown increasingly reliant on the tuition from the 194,000 Chinese students who enrolled at American universities last year, a 23 percent increase over the previous year."
NYU law professor Jerome Cohen, who helped arrange Chen's fellowship last year, insists Beijing played no part in the end of Chen's fellowship. ”Although I have not been party to NYU’s negotiations about the Shanghai campus, I have never heard a word from anyone, including Chinese diplomats, about the Chinese government putting pressure on NYU to terminate the Chens’ visit,” Cohen told the Wall Street Journal.
In his statement, Chen expressed gratitude to NYU for taking him in, but argues that "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. Academic independence and academic freedom in the United States are being greatly threatened by a totalitarian regime."
Chen, who endured seven years of abuse from the Communist regime for his work exposing family planning corruption, says NYU has given him until the end of June to vacate the faculty apartment in Greenwich Village where he's lived with his family since defecting from China. NYU spokesman John Beckman insisted in a statement that Chen's imminent departure from NYU "had nothing to do with the Chinese government — all fellowships come to an end."