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China: Second Foreign Scholar Detained

China: Second Foreign Scholar Detained

Human Rights Watch

New York, March 31, 2001

China's detention of a respected U.S. sociologist sends a chilling message
to foreign researchers and investors, Human Rights Watch said today.
The international monitoring organization urged that Chinese authorities
reveal the charges against Li Shaomin, a business professor at the
City University of Hong Kong, who was detained on February 25, 2001
en route to Shenzhen in southern China.

"This appears to be another case of a foreign academic detained in China
because his research or views are contrary to state policy," said Sidney
Jones, Asia director of Human Rights Watch. "We're asking that the
charges against Professor Li be made known, and that he be
immediately and unconditionally released unless there is
clear evidence that he has committed a non-political offense."

Li's family told Human Rights Watch he was doing research on China's
economic development and "e-commerce"; he was also involved in a dot-com
business in China. Li has written extensively on doing business in China
and on the impact of privatization and market reforms on the performance
of foreign enterprises.

Li Shaomin has been a U.S. citizen for the past six years; he studied at
Princeton University and Harvard University. While his detention is
likely to be related to his own activities, Chinese authorities may also
be motivated by the fact that his father, Li Honglin, is a well known
advocate of political reform and former political prisoner in China.

"The chilling effect of Li's detention on international academic and
business communities is all the greater, coming as it does on the heels
of the detention of Gao Zhan," said Jones.

Gao, a research scholar based at American University in Washington, DC,
was detained in China last month and earlier this week was publicly
accused by the Chinese Foreign Ministry of spying for foreign
intelligence agencies. Her husband, Xue Donghua, who was also detained
without charge and later released, has strongly denied the charges and
the Chinese government has offered no evidence to back up its claims.
The couple's five-year-old son, a U.S. citizen, was separated from them
for twenty-six days, and the U.S. embassy was not notified of the
detention. Human Rights Watch said China should immediately release Gao
and let her rejoin her family in the U.S., absent any evidence of

"These two detentions, along with other widespread abuses of human
rights, raise serious questions about China's willingness to respect
basic international norms," Jones noted. In October 1998, China signed
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which
specifically bars arbitrary detention. It has yet to ratify the treaty.
The detentions come as China prepares to face an attempt to censure its
human rights practices at the current session of the U.N. Commission on
Human Rights in Geneva.

For more information on human rights in China, please see:

China: Human Rights Deteriorate (HRW Campaign Page, last updated April
2, 2001) at


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