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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Academic's return sparks controversy
Li Shaomin
Li Shaomin: Glad to be back
By Damian Grammaticas in Hong Kong

Pro-Beijing figures in Hong Kong have criticised the authorities' decision to allow a Chinese-American academic convicted of spying against China to re-enter the territory.

Mr Li's arrest and conviction for spying embroiled China and the United States in a diplomatic row.

An American citizen, he was held for five months, then deported just before the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, visited Beijing last weekend.

I don't agree with their penalty. But of course, the court made their own sentence. I have my own view and my own defence. I am innocent and that's what I - how I defend myself.

Li Shaomin

Li Shaomin said he was glad to be back and hoped to resume his university teaching career.

"I will just pick up where I left and continue to do my research and teaching right now at City U [City University] and continue to do what I do the best - studying business and studying China's reform and openness."

Test of autonomy

Mr Li was questioned for five hours by Hong Kong immigration authorities before he was allowed in on Monday.

The decision was seen as a test of Hong Kong's autonomy from China.

But a Hong Kong delegate to China's National People's Congress, Ma Lik, said it was wrong as it was against China's national security.

He urged the university to terminate Mr Li's teaching contract.

The institution's chancellor said a special council meeting would be held to decide whether the academic could keep his job.

Call for anti-subversion law

Li Shaomin maintains he is not a spy:

"I don't agree with their penalty. But of course, the court made their own sentence. I have my own view and my own defence. I am innocent and that's what I - how I defend myself."

Mr Li's return to Hong Kong has also prompted some calls for the passing of local anti-subversion laws.

They would allow the territory to take action against figures seen as undermining China's national interests - but would be highly controversial.

See also:

06 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Spy-charge academics on trial 'next week'
17 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Spy charge against US academic
18 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
China petitioned over academics
30 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
China arrests another US academic
22 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
China: US academic 'confesses'
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
13 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
China to try US citizen
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