Sydney professor Chongyi Feng has now returned to Australia more than a week after being prevented from doing so by Chinese authorities. On Sunday morning, a small group of supporters and friends were at the Sydney airport to welcome Feng back home.
— Andrew Greene (@AndrewBGreene) April 2, 2017
Speaking to ABC, Feng said that he felt “great, brilliant” to be back in Australia, calling the ordeal “one of life’s little accidents” and “less than entertaining.” Facing daily questioning in Guangzhou after meeting with academics and human rights lawyers during a month-long visit to China, Feng said that he hoped his questioners had become bored as well.
Feng said that he answered questions about a wide range of topics, but didn’t know what in particular had caused Chinese officials to bar him from leaving Guangzhou twice. He explained that he was free to roam around in his hotel, but couldn’t stray far in case he was needed for more questioning.
Last Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that Feng had been prevented from leaving China because of “national security” concerns, but did not elaborate further. Feng said that he had done nothing illegal.
An Australian resident, Feng traveled to China with his Chinese passport. Last week, Australia’s foreign affairs department explained that it could only provide consular assistance to Australian citizens who arrived in China on their Australian passport.
Feng said he plans to soon return to China, saying “I need to finish my work.”
A professor at the University of Technology Sydney, Feng is well-respected academic focused on researching human rights. He has written extensively about China’s human rights issues and has been critical of Beijing’s growing influence in Australia.
Experts believe that Chinese authorities used Feng’s detention to deliver a blunt warning to Chinese Australians who spoke out against the interests of China. “Unfortunately a signal of intimidation has been sent to Chinese Australians not to criticize Communist party interference in Australian domestic affairs,” the head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, Rory Medcalf, told ABC.
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