US Senators Urge China to Release Professor Detained for His Speech

Sunny Chao
By Sunny Chao
August 7, 2018China News
US Senators Urge China to Release Professor Detained for His Speech
This screen grab taken from AFP video footage shows former professor Sun Wenguang talking in his home in Jinan City, Shandong Province, China, on August 28, 2013.(Tania Lee/AFP/Getty Images)

On Aug. 1, professor Sun Wenguang, 84, was taken away by police from his home in Jinan City, Shandong Province, during a live phone interview with independent media outlet Voice of America (VOA).

Since then, Chinese authorities have offered little information about Sun’s whereabouts. VOA most recently reported on Aug. 5 that Sun had been moved from a military-run hotel where he was being held to an undisclosed location.

Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are now urging Beijing to release him immediately.

Outspoken about human-rights issues and critical of government policies in China, Sun, a retired physics professor at Shandong University, has been subjected to constant monitoring and intimidation by Chinese authorities over the years.

During the Aug. 1 interview, Sun criticized China’s “dollar diplomacy” tactics, as the country is committed to spending large sums on foreign infrastructure projects instead of spending money on fixing domestic problems.

“The ordinary [Chinese] people are poor, and we should stop throwing money at Africa,” Sun said.

Suddenly, there was commotion in the background. Sun could be heard shouting: “It is illegal for you to break into my house. This is my freedom of speech!” Then, the line went dead.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) expressed his concern about Sun in a statement sent to VOA. “Chinese authorities are increasingly aggressive and brazen in their efforts to stifle free speech and other basic rights. We are deeply concerned for Professor Wenguang Sun’s safety and well-being, and urge his immediate and unconditional release,” he said, according to a Aug. 5 VOA report.

Rubio also publicly commented on the incident via Twitter on Aug. 2: “Every time you hear overblown rhetoric about how we are on the verge of ‘tyranny’ or ‘authoritarianism’ in America remember what real tyranny looks like. In #China the police arrested a Xi critic while he was in the middle of a live interview.”

Meanwhile, Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and co-chairman of the Congressional Executive Committee on China—a government agency that monitors human rights issues in China—said in a statement on Aug. 2: “The Chinese and American people must continue to work toward a day when someone like Prof. Sun can openly share his opinions, via a free press, without fear of reprisal.”

Epoch Times staff member Wen Pu contributed to this report.

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