GOP lawmaker wants hearings into why famed Chinese dissident left NYU

New York University is coming under fire from congressional Republicans for reportedly asking blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng to leave the campus.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) told The Hill that he wants to drag NYU's head of Chinese studies before Congress to answer allegations, first reported by the New York Post, that the university asked Chen to leave because of threats to shut down its new campus in Shanghai. 

NYU denies the allegations. The university says Chen was never expected to pursue his legal studies at NYU indefinitely when the university first brought him on board last May after Chen sought refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

ADVERTISEMENT
“If there were outside pressure, why would we have taken him in the first place when his plight was on every front page in the world?” spokesman John Beckman said in a statement to the Post.

Smith offered a number of examples of colleges and universities betraying academic freedom in exchange for access to the booming Chinese education market.

“There is a serious issue raised here about NYU,” Smith told The Hill on Thursday. “And they're not the only ones kowtowing to Beijing.”

He suggested a “series of hearings on higher education's complicity” with Chinese “gagging” of free speech.

“They're getting money — college after college, university after university,” said Smith, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subpanel on human rights.

Smith helped bring Chen's plight to the world's attention when he talked to him by phone during a hearing last year while Chen was recovering under guard at a Beijing hospital. Under pressure to find a solution to a growing diplomatic crisis, U.S. diplomats hit on the proposal to have him study in America.

Smith said he's been in touch with officials at NYU throughout Chen's stay there. He said Chen has become more vocal recently about talking about forced abortions and other human rights abuses, raising China's ire.

Please send tips and comments to Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com

Follow us on Twitter: @TheHillGlobal and @JPecquetTheHill