A U.S. scholar convicted of spying in China has been given permission to resume his teaching career in Hong Kong. The decision was closely watched as a test of Hong Kong's autonomy from mainland China.
City University's executive council decided unanimously Friday that Li Shaomin's conviction in China of spying for Taiwan should not have any bearing on his ability to teach again at the publicly-funded college.
The chairman of the council, Leung Lai-pang, said a review of Li Shaomin's case did not show any cause to discipline the academic. "Having carefully considered the circumstances surrounding the case, the president has concluded that a disciplinary hearing is not practical, given the limited information available," he said.
The Chinese-born American scholar was an associate professor of marketing at the university when he was detained in China in February. He was convicted by a Beijing court on July 14, and deported several days later to the United States.
When the Hong Kong government allowed Li Shaomin to return to the Chinese territory Monday, it won high praise from human rights groups and academics, who viewed the decision as Hong Kong exercising its so-called "one country, two systems" policy. The policy was adopted at the time of the British handover to China in 1997, and gives the territory a high degree of autonomy from the communist mainland.
Since Li Shaomin's return to Hong Kong, City University officials had been under severe pressure from academics and the media to make an independent decision that respected academic freedom.