Academic Freedom
Chinese Academics Detained > Other Petitions and Letters

Letter from Faculty at Oxford and London University
24 April 2001

His Excellency Mr Ma Zhengang
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Embassy of the People's Republic of China
49-51 Portland Place

Dear Mr Ambassador,

This letter is addressed to you by a group of university teachers at Oxford University, and one at London University, who are seriously concerned about the reported detention since the late summer 2000 of a former student of ours, Dr Xu Zerong, and are anxiously seeking information about his present circumstances.

Dr Xu, whose anglicized name is Dr David Tsui, returned to China after completing the full-time part of his studies at Oxford and has most recently served on the teaching staff of Zhongshan University in Guangzhou. Since reports of his detention became current, we have been led to understand that Chinese authorities have not provided any information, even to his family, about the charges that have been made against him or where he is being held. We have, however, seen reports which indicate that he is under investigation and detention for publishing material on aspects of Chinese foreign policy. If this were to be confirmed, it would have worrying implications about the extent of academic freedom in China. The

arrest, without charge or trial, of an academic in good standing would inevitably be harmful to China's international reputation and the free flow of ideas between China and other countries. We are also concerned about the damage that this case may cause to scholarly exchanges between our two countries.

We would like to draw to your attention the following material facts about Dr Xu. He came to Oxford University in October 1989 to obtain an M.Phil in International Relations and was a member of St Antony's College. He completed this course in June 1991 and stayed on to study for a doctoral

degree in International Relations under the supervision of Professor Rosemary Foot. As is normal, he worked on his thesis after returning home to Hong Kong. He was awarded this degree in 1999.

Dr Xu's research for his doctoral thesis related to China's involvement in the Korean War. His approach to the subject was wholly scholarly; and he

used a range of sources in a manner that conformed to the highest academic standards. His treatment of an important topic can in no sense be regarded as having been detrimental to China's interests. If any doubts exist on these points, we would be happy for you to contact Dr Xu's external examiner, Professor Michael Yahuda, and his internal examiner, Dr Steve Tsang, who can confirm the high scholarly quality of this thesis.

In these circumstances we urge you, with great respect, to provide us with information about our former student's whereabouts, the conditions of his detention and the charges that have been made against him. We also request that your authorities either release Dr Xu immediately or allow him a proper defence in a Chinese court of law, and in accordance with China's

laws and the international human rights treaties that China has signed.

We shall be informing the British Government of our deep concern and pressing for it too to take this matter up with your Government in Beijing. In the meantime we await most anxiously your reply to our request for information.

Yours sincerely

Sir Marrack Goulding
Warden, St Antony's College, Oxford

Dr David Faure
Faculty Fellow, St Antony's College, Oxford

Professor Rosemary Foot
Professor of International Relations, St Antony's College, Oxford

Professor Robert O'Neill
Chichele Professor of the History of War, All Souls College, Oxford

Professor Adam Roberts
Montague Burton Professor of International Relations, Balliol College, Oxford

Professor Avi Shlaim
Professor of International Relations, St Antony's College, Oxford, Director of Graduate Studies, International Relations

Dr Steve Tsang
Director, Asian Studies Centre, and Reader in Politics, St Antony's College, Oxford

Professor Michael B. Yahuda
Professor of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science


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