HONG KONG — China will allow dissident Fang Lizhi to leave the U.S. Embassy in Beijing where he has been since June and travel to Australia before the end of this month, a Hong Kong magazine said Tuesday.
Both the American and Australian consulates in Hong Kong declined to comment on the report.
The magazine Pai Shing, without revealing its sources, said a preliminary understanding was reached during a visit to Beijing in December by U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft. It was later approved by senior Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.
Fang, a scientist and one of China's leading dissidents, sought asylum with his wife in the U.S. Embassy shortly after troops crushed pro-democracy protests in Beijing on June 4.
Their presence in the embassy is hindering improvement in relations between the United States and China.
Pai Shing, usually well-informed on Chinese affairs, said Fang is likely to leave Beijing after Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke's visit to China in mid-January and before the lunar new year Jan. 27.
In Washington, China's ambassador to the United States did not deny the report of an impending deal on Fang.
"I can't say anything about that," Zhu Qichen told reporters after meeting Undersecretary of State Robert Kimmit at the State Department. Asked specifically if he would deny that a deal on Fang was in the works, Zhu repeated the same reply.
The State Department also refused to discuss the subject.