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Chinese Academics Detained > Other Petitions and Letters

Letter from Benjamin Ladner, President, American University
American University
Washington, D.C. 20016

Foreign Minister Tang Jia Xuan
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Beijing, China

Dear Minister Tang:

As President of American University, I am visiting China and other Asian countries to meet with our university graduates who live and work in these countries. However, while I am here, I would like to seek your assistance on a matter of importance to me personally and to my university.

Dr. Gao Zhan, a Faculty Research Fellow at American University, has been detained in your country for more than two months. Her husband and son are U.S. citizens and have been unable to contact her since her detention. She and her husband were visiting their families in China when they were detained. It is important for you to know of their love for their homeland, their families who live here, and their desire to return to China to teach in Chinese universities to help contribute to the future of your country.

American University has been a friend of China for many years. We currently enroll a large number of Chinese students on our campus in Washington, DC. We also bring students from Chinese universities in Shanghai, Guangdong, and Hong Kong to study on our campus each year through special programs. Last year, I hosted 25 Chinese university presidents on our campus and in my home, where we collaborated on improving our institutions through cooperation. We are continuing these discussions and hope to develop more joint programs. Also, we have many graduates of American University who live and work in China.

My contact with U.S. Secretary Colin Powell confirms that he is personally quite concerned about Dr. Gao's detention. Of course, I understand that current China-U.S. relations have become difficult in light of the recent airplane incident. However, I am certain that it would be viewed by the United States as a very positive sign of an effort to improve these relations if you would help facilitate the release of Dr. Gao. It would also be a great humanitarian act for China to allow her to be reunited with her husband and young son.

Additionally, as one of the most diverse universities in the world, with students and faculty from 165 countries, American University maintains contact with Chinese scholars around the world, and they have expressed concern about this situation. I am worried that continued detention of Dr. Gao will not only disrupt the

good relations between American University and Chinese universities, but also that the worldwide academic community will view Chinese universities and research unfavorably.

I hope you will give this matter your urgent attention and, on humanitarian and academic grounds, allow Dr. Gao to return to her family and her position at American University.

Because of my deep interest in this situation, I am personally delivering this letter to you, along with a letter to Dr. Gao from her husband, Donghua Xue, which I am requesting that you deliver to her.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.


Benjamin Ladner
President, American University


Letter to Jiang Zemin

Leading Academics Protest Detentions
HRW Press Release

Other Petitions and Letters

Biographies of the Detained Scholars

Press Conference Co-sponsors

Press Conference Speakers

HRW Academic Freedom Program

China: Human Rights Deteriorate
HRW Special Focus


Dr. Gao Zhan, released

Dr. Li Shaomin, released

Dr. Xu Zerong, detained days