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U.S."very concerned" over scholar's arrest in China

Liu Yingli says her requests to talk to her husband, U.S. academic Li Shaomin, have been denied
Liu Yingli says her requests to talk to her husband, U.S. academic Li Shaomin, have been denied  


By staff and wire reports

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. State Department has said it is "very concerned" over the indictment of a Chinese-American scholar in China on charges of spying for Taiwan.

U.S. citizen Li Shaomin, detained without explanation in China since late February, has been formally arrested on suspicion of spying for Taiwan, according to his wife.

Liu Yingli told CNN that she was advised by the Chinese Ministry of State Security that Li Shaomin is now officially being investigated as a suspected spy for Taiwan.

"It is a big shock, because he has done nothing. They accuse him of spying, which is totally nonsense. He is an outstanding scholar," she said.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said they are very concerned with the development.

"We'll continue to express our concerns about Mr. Li's case to the Chinese government. Obviously, we're going to press very strongly for him to be accorded due process and for this case to be brought to a fair and a speedy conclusion."

Chinese police seized Li Shaomin, a professor of business at City University in Hong Kong, when he crossed the border from Hong Kong into China on February 25th.

 VIDEO
CNN's Mike Chinoy talks to Lin Yingli, wife of arrested scholar Dr. Li Shaomin

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Consular access

China has so far kept to the terms of its consular access agreement with the United States in the case of Li, allowing a visit on April 30, Boucher said. The agreement allows for at least one visit a month to U.S. citizens in jail.

"We expect to see him again within the next two weeks and we have delivered clothing, books and letters to Chinese state security officials for transmittal to Mr. Li," he added.

U.S. officials handed over the clothing and other materials on Wednesday but did not know if they had reached him.

The spokesman declined to take a position on whether the charges against Li have any merit, saying the allegations did not involve the United States.

Li's wife was told by the Chinese security official that she would not be allowed to have any contact with her husband, and that his case would go through the standard legal process in China.

"I asked if I could talk to my husband, and he said no. I ask if I can call him on the phone, and he says no. I ask if they can tell me where my husband is being held, and he says no."

Liu vehemently denied any suggestion that her husband was a spy, insisting he was simply a scholar.

Li Shaomin has written six books and several newspaper articles on China and Taiwan. In 1988 he wrote an article for the Asian Wall Street Journal that discussed how China could learn from Taiwan's experience.

The article was recently re-published following Li's detention.

Prominent dissident

Li's father was a prominent dissident who served nearly a year in jail after the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

Gao Zhan is another U.S. academic to have been formally charged with spying
Gao Zhan is another U.S. academic to have been formally charged with spying  

Liu said there had been no warning that her husband would be arrested. She also said he had been denied immediate access to a lawyer.

"They said this needs to be approved first, so right now our lawyer is working to see him, but he was told it needs to go through many levels of China's government," she said.

Liu has contacted the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong, where she lives, and also the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Li, who holds a PhD. from Princeton University, is one of five Chinese academics with overseas nationality or residence who have been detained in China in recent months.

One of them, U.S Green Card holder Gao Zhan, has been formally charged with spying.

Warning

No formal charges have yet been made against Xu Zerong, an associate research professor at the Guangdong Provincial Academy of Sociual Sciences, who holds a PhD. from Oxford University in Britain.

In April, after a series of arrests of academics in China, the United States warned that critics and other visitors to the Communist country to be careful because they may risk detention by China.

The warning, addressed to Chinese-born U.S. citizens or permanent residents, said the Ministry of State Security was apparently targeting those who had criticized the government or had visited Taiwan.

Boucher said the State Department stood by the warning and that a revision of the language would depend on future developments in China's treatment of Chinese-Americans.

CNN's Senior Asia Correspondent Mike Chinoy and Reuters contributed to this report.







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