Sun, Jul 11, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Beijing threatens British academic

CAMBRIDGE SEMINAR Taiwanese participation in the annual meeting has triggered protests in the past, but China's embassy in London has reportedly warned the organizer that he could lose his job

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Chinese Embassy in London threatened a British professor over invitations to officials from the Ministry of Justice's Investigation Bureau to attend a Cambridge symposium, a British peer revealed during a debate in the House of Lords earlier this week.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester, who is the vice chairman of the All-Party Group on Taiwan, disclosed on Thursday that Barry Rider, the retiring director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies at London University, has been under great pressure from the Chinese Embassy because of the Taiwanese participants at a symposium he organized.

The Chinese officials threatened to force the symposium to be canceled and told Rider that he would lose his job, according to a letter the professor wrote to Faulkner on July 4.

For the past 21 years, Rider has run a symposium on economic crime at Jesus College Cambridge, attended by hundreds of participants from around the world.

"One of the most important of those has been the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau in Taiwan ... which shares its knowledge of organized crime to the benefit of everyone who attends. This has covered economic crime, money laundering and murder investigations," Faulkner said.

Rider has also welcomed the involvement of China in the annual symposiums.

According to Faulkner, in his letter Rider wrote: "The Chinese Embassy has been very concerned about the symposium according any kind of recognition to Taiwan. Several years ago there was a great flurry of activity when the program referred to the Republic of China [ROC] and several senior officials from the embassy demanded to meet with me in Cambridge and more or less threatened me."

"They indicated that pressure would be applied to ensure that the symposium did not remain in Cambridge and I would lose my job," Faulkner quoted Rider as saying.

He said Rider went on to describe how China's attitude has worsened over the past three years.

A large delegation of Chinese officials who had intended to participate in last year's symposium had been stopped, "apparently at the behest of the PRC embassy in London," Faulkner said.

"What this alarming story demonstrates, as does the PRC's resistance to Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization, is that political point scoring at Taiwan's expense seems to matter more to mainland China than the greater public good that comes from involving Taiwan and its experts in international organizations," he said.

An Investigation Bureau official involved in organizing its annual participation in the symposium said yesterday that bureau's Director General Yeh Sheng-mao (葉盛茂) will head the delegation to this year's meeting in September. The official said Yeh was invited to make a speech as well.

"We have been attending the symposiums for many years. The bureau has earmarked a budget for this year's participation in the meeting," the official said.

The official declined to answer when asked if the bureau was aware that the Chinese Embassy had pressured Rider over Taiwan-ese participation.

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