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The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
"Gao's arrest will only add further complication to an already difficult meeting"
 real 56k

Xue Donghua
"They were asking me about [my wife's] Taiwan trip"
 real 28k

Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
China: US academic 'confesses'
Tiananmen Square
Gao was arrested with her family at the airport in Beijing
China has said that a US-based academic detained for nearly six weeks has "openly confessed" to the crime of endangering state security.

Gao Zhan, a political science researcher at the American University in Washington DC, was detained on 11 February in Beijing.

Her husband and five-year-old son, who is a US citizen, were also detained but were allowed to return to the US on 8 March.


[Andrew] was not detained. He was sent to a kindergarten, where he received good care

Chinese official
News that Ms Gao had "confessed" was announced by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi.

"Gao Zhan is suspected of activities harming state security," the spokesman said.

He dismissed complaints from human rights groups that the detained academic's son, Andrew, was held in isolation from his parents during the period.

"He was not detained. He was sent to a kindergarten," Mr Sun said.

Family photo of Gao with husband Xue Donghua and son Andrew
Gao with her family
He also said Andrew's parents had never asked police to notify the US embassy, so China had not violated agreements requiring it to inform the US if it holds American citizens.

Ms Gao and her husband, Xue Donghua, are US residents awaiting full citizenship.

Mr Xue has told the BBC that the allegations of his wife endangering state security were "totally nonsense".

'Outrageous' treatment

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Wednesday that the US had asked China to release Ms Gao immediately.

Xue Donghua, Goa's husband, with son
Xue has returned with his son to their home in Vienna, Virginia
Describing his wife as simply a scholar conducting research, Mr Xue has appealed to President George W Bush to help secure his wife's release.

He said in a statement released by the New York-based Human Rights in China that police refused to let him see his son unless he provided damaging information on his wife.

Other detentions

Ms Gao, who has taught and written about Chinese politics, is the third Chinese-born researcher in the last few years to be detained during a visit to China from the US.

Last month, a Stanford University expert on the Chinese military arrested in 1998 was sentenced to 10 years in prison on espionage charges.

Ms Gao's work on women's rights has been published widely in Chinese-language journals.

Her research on the role of Taiwanese women in the democratic process, led to her travelling twice with a study group to the island, which Beijing views as a renegade province.

Mr Xue told the BBC that during his detention, he was questioned about his wife's Taiwan trip.

The case has emerged as the Chinese vice-Premier Qian Qichen arrived in Washington DC for meetings with Secretary of State Colin Powell and President Bush.

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See also:

21 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
US family detained in China
22 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
US and China agree to differ
22 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Tension in US-China talks
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