Chinese authorities prevented Gu Chuan, a blogger and editor, from traveling to the US to accept Columbia University’s invitation as a visiting scholar. According to Scholars at Risk, the reason was another Chinese individual’s critical remarks while visiting the US. CCS protested this double violation of international protection of travel and speech.
Read Our Letter:
April 23, 2012
President Hu Jintao
The State Council General Office
People’s Republic of China
We are an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world. We write now in concern over Mr. Gu Chuan.
We understand from Scholars at Risk (SAR) that Mr. Chuan, a blogger, newspaper contributor and editor, was invited by Columbia University in New York to take up a one-year position as a Visiting Scholar. SAR understands that Mr. Chuan, his wife and their two children attempted to depart for the United States on April 4th but were prevented from boarding an outbound plane from Beijing and that Mr. Chuan’s passport, including his US visa, was confiscated. Furthermore, SAR understands that he was told that he was barred from travel as doing so may “endanger national security” and that his travel ban related to a prior scholar-writer’s flight to the United States earlier this year and that person’s subsequent critical descriptions of his experiences when held by the Chinese police. It was reported that Mr. Chuan’s apartment block has experienced increased police presence over the past several days.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, protects freedom of expression, right to travel and scientific exchange. Public reports that Mr. Chuan was denied permission to travel to take up a position at Columbia University suggest that these rights have not been respected. Moreover, the allegation that Mr. Chuan was restricted from traveling in part because of the expressive activity of a prior scholar, if true, would be doubly improper in both imposing restrictions on Mr. Chuan for the conduct of another person and for expressive activity (of the other person) which is itself protected under international standards to which China is a party. Therefore, the apparent restricting of Mr. Chuan’s travel suggests serious concerns not only about his ability to engage with colleagues in his field, but also about intimidation of intellectuals generally in China.
We therefore respectfully urge you to expedite approval of any pending or future travel requests and to prohibit further police harassment of Mr. Chuan. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China
No. 2, Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyang District,
Beijing, 100701 CHINA
H.E. Mr. Zhang Yesui
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United States of America
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America
3505 International Place NW
Washington, DC 20008 USA
Fax: +1 (202) 495-2190
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
United States of America
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520 USA
The Honorable Gary F. Locke
United States Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China
United States Embassy of Beijing, China
No. 55 An Jia Lou Lu 100600 CHINA
Fax: (86-10) 8531-4200
President Lee C. Bollinger
Columbia University in the City of New York
Office of the President
202 Low Library
535 West 116th Street, Mail Code 4309
New York NY 10027