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U.S. Scholar Returns to Hong Kong

July 31, 2001|From Associated Press

HONG KONG — Less than a week after mainland China deported an American academic convicted of spying for Taiwan, he returned to Hong Kong on Monday to try to resume teaching despite objections from Beijing's allies here.

Li Shaomin's arrival was viewed by pro-democracy forces as a victory for Hong Kong's autonomy, which they say has often been compromised in the four years since Britain returned its former colony to Chinese sovereignty.

It was not clear whether Li can return to his job as a professor of marketing at the City University of Hong Kong. The university has been vague about Li's status, drawing criticism that it was ignoring concerns about academic freedom out of deference to Beijing's wishes.

Li, 44, received a doctorate in sociology from Princeton University in 1988 and became an American citizen in 1995. He had lived in Hong Kong until Chinese authorities arrested him in the border city of Shenzhen on Feb. 25.

His arrival in Hong Kong came five days after Li flew to the U.S. following his conviction and deportation from China. He was found guilty of damaging Chinese national security and spying for Taiwan, but no evidence against him has been made public.

There was no indication that Li's activities will be restricted. Many Chinese dissidents live in Hong Kong and campaign here against suppression in the mainland.

Li's hopes to return to Hong Kong had been watched carefully by local pro-democracy figures, who had worried that he might be barred. Local pro-Beijing newspapers had said Li should be kept away.

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