Beijing: A pixieish literature professor is the latest person to run afoul of China`s government, denied permission to travel to a prominent academic conference in the United States this week.
Cui Weiping had her Chinese passport, US visa and airplane ticket to Philadelphia in hand when, she said, officials at the Beijing Film Academy where she works called her on Sunday and told her to cancel the trip. Though they gave reasons for the denial - she has classes to teach, her conference panel was not related to her academic discipline - those were excuses, she said.
The unstated reason, she said: last year`s commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen democracy movement and her recent outraged Twitter posts at the jailing of a peaceful political activist.
"Really, they want to punish me," Cui said on Thursday sitting in an artsy coffee shop in the university district.
"They`re afraid, one, of what I might say abroad," she said, "and two, they want to pressure me."
In the uproar over Google`s tussle with Chinese Internet censorship, Cui`s case is a reminder that the authoritarian government often resorts to more blunt ways to restrict the flow of ideas.
Cui is hardly a firebrand. Small, bookish and 54, she prefers her literary and film criticism, her translations of the works of people like Czech dissident-turned-president Vaclav Havel, rather than political campaigning.