Sydney professor stopped from leaving China

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Chongyi Feng, an associate professor in Chinese studies at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), was prevented from boarding Australia-bound flights leaving Guangzhou.

Feng, a permanent resident of Australia, had been on a three-week research trip examining a recent crackdown on human rights by President Xi Jinping.

Dr Feng's published research over a long academic career has touched upon sensitive areas, including China's political and human rights situation.

Feng is staying in a hotel in Guangzhou and does not know when he will be able to return to Sydney, sources told AFP.

But speaking to RFA, he said Feng was "not authorized to discuss" the interviews with anyone else.

"It's extremely worrying that China attempts to extend its influence on overseas Chinese scholars and threatens to silence them", Patrick Poon, an Amnesty International researcher based in Hong Kong, said.

DFAT is unable to provide Dr Feng with assistance as he did not enter China on an Australian passport.

"He was then tailed after his arrival in Guangzhou, by people who had followed him all the way from Kunming", Liu said.

The Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, was in Australia over the weekend for a visit regarding the countries' trade relations.

"The university is also in contact with the relevant government agencies in the hope that the matter can be resolved as soon as possible", it added.

Chinese lawyers who had been in contact with Professor Feng said he had been stopped from leaving China by police who had accused him of threatening state security.

"Although he is now unable to leave China, for reasons we do not yet understand, he nonetheless has freedom of movement in China and freedom of communications".

'His movements inside China aren't officially restricted, but national security authorities have questioned him a number of times about who he's met and that kind of thing, ' Mr Chen told the New York Times.

"The net effect is now the Chinese community in Australia, actually their major cultural consumption is still party propaganda", he said last July.

The Chinese government also censored social media content, he said.

It is understood that, as of yesterday morning, Prof Feng remained free to move around within China and was not physically detained. "But the current Chinese leadership definitely doesn't agree".

However the justice minister, Michael Keenan, said the Australian government had been in contact with his family and the Chinese government.