Man ex­pelled over rights re­search

Bangkok Post - - ASIA -

BEI­JING: A Ger­man man has learned the hard way that prac­tis­ing jour­nal­ism in China, even for a class project, could lead to se­ri­ous trou­ble.

David Missal, 24, was pur­su­ing a master’s de­gree in jour­nal­ism and com­mu­ni­ca­tion at pres­ti­gious Ts­inghua Univer­sity in Bei­jing. He was due to re­turn to Ger­many yes­ter­day af­ter im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties told him his stu­dent visa was can­celled and he had a week to leave China.

Mr Missal said he thinks that’s be­cause he re­ported on the plight of jailed hu­man rights lawyers in a jour­nal­ism class. Mr Missal said a Ts­inghua rep­re­sen­ta­tive this year warned him twice against pur­su­ing the po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive sub­ject, but he went ahead any­way be­cause he wanted to “get to learn Chi­nese so­ci­ety and pol­i­tics’’.

“In a way, the last two months I did get to learn more Chi­nese so­ci­ety and pol­i­tics,’’ Mr Missal said, re­fer­ring to his own case.

China de­tained 300 peo­ple na­tion­wide on July 9, 2015, as part of its big­gest crack­down on hu­man rights ac­tivists.

The ac­tion against Mr Missal un­der­scores China’s ex­treme sen­si­tiv­ity to for­eign at­ten­tion to the crack­down, word of which has rarely ap­peared in China’s en­tirely state-con­trolled me­dia and on the heav­ily po­liced Chi­nese in­ter­net.

Ts­inghua’s pro­pa­ganda of­fice said it could not im­me­di­ately com­ment and had to look into the case.

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