March 24, 2017
On March 24, 2017, Chinese officials barred Professor Feng Chongyi, a Chinese national, from flying to Australia, where he is a permanent resident and is a scholar of China studies at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). Sources suggest that he was prohibited from traveling outside the country based on national security allegations related to his human rights research.
Professor Feng, whose research focuses on China’s political economy and intellectual development, is a prominent scholar in mainland China and Australia, where he served as the head of UTS’s China studies department for 11 eleven years. He regularly writes for and is quoted in news publications, and has publicly criticized Chinese authorities’ treatment of dissidents, and their attempts to influence China’s overseas populations.
In March 2017, Professor Feng traveled to China to research conditions relating to human rights lawyers in the country, who reportedly suffered widespread repression starting in July 2015. Sources indicate that during his last week in the country, state security officers in Kunming visited Professor Feng and questioned him about his research and the individuals he had been meeting with. On the morning of March 24, while he made his way through a customs checkpoint at Guangzhou Airport, Professor Feng was reportedly barred from boarding his return flight to Australia. The next day, he made a second attempt to leave the country, and learned that he is being denied exit from China on allegations that he is a threat to state security.
Late March 27, 2017 the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) issued the following statement:
UTS media update – Associate Professor Chongyi Feng
The University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS’) first and foremost concern is with the welfare of Associate Professor Chongyi Feng and our focus is on his quick return to Australia.
We have been in regular contact with Dr Feng, including as recently as this morning. He is well and in good spirits. We have continued to provide support to him and to his family here in Australia. We spoke with his daughter here this morning to offer our support to her.
Additionally, we have been in contact with the Chinese Consulate in Sydney to convey our concerns for Dr Feng and to request their assistance for a speedy resolution.
We are also in contact with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). We understand the Australian Government is taking the matter up although there are diplomatic constraints due to the fact that Professor Feng is not an Australian citizen and was travelling on his Chinese passport.
Dr Feng travels to China on a regular basis to undertake research, as is normal for China scholars. We hope this matter can be resolved soon so that he can continue his work.
UTS contact: Greg Welsh on details below
Deputy Director, Strategic Communication
University of Technology Sydney