AMERICAN professor convicted of spying to leave China by end of week, group says

Monday, July 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BEIJING (AP) _ An American business professor convicted of spying for Taiwan will be expelled from China later this week, a human rights group said Monday.

Li Shaomin will probably leave on Thursday for Hong Kong, according to the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. That would be the same day Chinese courts are required to put their verdict in writing.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman said Monday that officials didn't know when Li would be expelled or to where. The Chinese government is not obligated to tell American officials when U.S. citizens are being deported.

Li, 44, was convicted Saturday in a closed trial at the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court. The official Xinhua News Agency gave no details, but said the court had a ``large amount of confirmed evidence'' that he spied for Taiwan and damaged Chinese security.

China did not explain why Li was being deported instead of imprisoned. Under Chinese law, he could have been sentenced to three years to life in jail.

Neither his lawyer nor family members have received any news since Li's conviction, said the Hong Kong-based Information Center, a reliable source of information about dissidents in China.

The scholar's wife has said that he is innocent.

Li, who teaches at City University in Hong Kong, went to the United States in 1982. He later became an American citizen and received a Ph.D. from Princeton University. He has lectured in China and worked as a U.N. adviser to Beijing.

He is one of five Chinese-born intellectuals with U.S. ties accused by China over the past year of spying for rival Taiwan. He was the first to go on trial in the crackdown.

Hong Kong Security Bureau spokeswoman Patricia Mok said she could not discuss individual cases and declined to comment on whether Li would be allowed to return to Hong Kong. The former British colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.