An Australian Professor Has Been Reportedly Barred from Leaving China

Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan said officials had contacted relatives of Feng, who is a China studies academic at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

Friends based in Australia say it is a positive sign that he is not being held completely incommunicado. Dr Chongyi Feng was prevented from boarding flights in Guangzhou on Friday (24 March) and Saturday.

Police last Friday blocked Feng Chongyi, a permanent resident of Australia, from boarding a flight for Sydney from Guangzhou's global airport, lawyer Liu Hao told AFP.

Rights groups and Western governments, including the United States, have urged China to release the activists and lawyers detained in the crackdown, while critics have said the campaign is aimed at silencing opponents of the ruling Communist Party.

Feng, a permanent resident of Australia, had been on a three-week research trip examining a recent crackdown on human rights by President Xi Jinping.

John Hugh - a friend of Feng - who spoke to the lecturer by telephone on Monday, said that the academic was calm but was irritated at not being able to leave China. Since then, he's been in the southern city of Guangzhou, where he's been questioned several times by Chinese national security officers.

According to his laywer, Chen Jinxue, Feng has not been formally arrested or charged, reports the New York Times.

More recently he had been vocal about the growing control and influence of Beijing on Australia's Chinese-language media outlets.

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"UTS has been in regular contact with Dr Feng, who has assured the university that he is fine".

"The net effect is now the Chinese community in Australia, actually their major cultural consumption is still party propaganda", he said last July.

"Feng has always wanted China to move in the direction of democracy and constitutional government", Xia said.

"The Chinese government has begun to shift its bottom line", Xia said.

However, he was again notified that he was on a no-fly list when he attempted to board a second flight home the next day.

Former Australian foreign minister Bob Carr, who leads the Australia-China Relations Institute at UTS, was in China attending the Boao economic forum over the weekend.

Both UTS and the Australian government have reached out to Feng's family, while the latter has also been in touch with the Chinese government about his case.

  • Darren Santiago