Congressman: Probe China’s Influence on NYU Booting Chen Guangcheng

International   Steven Ertelt   Jun 14, 2013   |   4:43PM    Washington, DC

A top pro-life congressman wants Congressional hearings to explore whether or not China unduly influenced New York University to kick out human rights campaigner Chen Guangcheng.

Chen received a fellowship to study at New York University after seeking help at the U.S. embassy in Beijing last year to escape China, where he faced imprisonment and house arrest for exposing brutal campaigns of forced abortions.

New York University law professor Jerome Cohen assisted Chen in China after he fled to the U.S. Embassy and assisted him in obtaining a fellowship at New York University. The two had known each other since Chen, a blind attorney, first came to the United States in 2003, before the controversy erupted in China.

Since arriving in the U.S., Chen has stayed at faculty housing along with his wife and children, until reports showed NYU booted him following pressure from China over NYU’s desire to build a campus in Shanghai.

Now, according to the New York Post, Rep. Chris Smith, a pro-life Republican, is looking at potential hearings.

As The Post exclusively reported yesterday, the university — which is building a campus in Shanghai — has given Chen until the end of the month to leave because his presence rankles Chinese authorities.

Smith, a prominent congressional critic of US foreign policy in China who is familiar with details of Chen’s NYU stay, said yesterday he is convinced the school has been treating Chen like a hot potato amid heat from China.

“I have no doubt it was pressure from the government,” Smith told The Post, when asked about the move-out order.

“They can come and testify under oath that it’s not true,” Smith told The Post. “I’m ready to go.”

NYU yesterday defended the eviction.

Jerome Cohen, the NYU professor who helped broker Chen’s stay after the activist’s daring May 2012 escape from his homeland, denied there was any political pressure from China and contended that Chen was supposed to stay for only a year.

But Smith countered that Chen “was not treated well” during the year he has spent with his family at NYU faculty housing in Greenwich Village.

“He had a place, a physical space to stay,” Smith said. “But contact was extraordinarily limited and it was under the watchful eye of somebody who would report on him.”

To make matters worse, Smith said Chen was discouraged repeatedly by NYU officials from speaking out against the Chinese government.

“There were little penalties all along the way,” Smith said, declining to be specific.