Singapore expels US academic

The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy is part of the National University of Singapore. (Reuters Photo)

Singapore has ordered the expulsion of a noted American academic and China expert for what it said was his covert effort to influence Singapore’s foreign policy on behalf of an unnamed foreign government.

Huang Jing, who was quickly removed from his position as the director of the Centre on Asia and Globalization at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, was accused of passing “privileged information” to senior Singapore officials with the intent of affecting their decisions.

“He did this in collaboration with foreign intelligence agents,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement on Friday that announced the order. “This amounts to subversion and foreign interference in Singapore’s domestic politics.”

Some view Mr Huang’s academic writings as pro-Chinese. He has also held posts at the Brookings Institution, Stanford University and Harvard University in the US.

Mr Huang, whose permanent resident status in Singapore was also revoked, declined to answer questions from the  about his expulsion. But in comments to other media outlets, he expressed uncertainty about whether he had been accused of aiding Beijing or Washington.

“It’s nonsense to identify me as ‘an agent of influence’ for a foreign country,” he told the South China Morning Post. “And why didn’t they identify which foreign country they’re referring to? Is it the US or China?”

“My family and my home are all here. I have property in Singapore, too. How can they treat me like this? If they have evidence, they should take me to court.”

According to one person close to the Lee Kuan Yew School, Mr Huang’s troubles began after he submitted an academic paper to a school administrator, who then passed it on to high-level officials.

This appears to be the origin of the charge that Mr Huang had used his position “to deliberately and covertly advance the agenda of a foreign country at Singapore’s expense”.

The clear intention was to use the information to cause the Singapore government to change its foreign policy, the ministry said, but the government did not act on the “privileged information”.

Mr Huang’s wife, Shirley Yang Xiuping, was also ordered to leave Singapore. The ministry said she had been aware that her husband was using his position to advance the interests of a foreign country.

The ministry identified both as American citizens. It said that their continued presence in Singapore was “undesirable” and that they would be permanently banned from re-entering the country. Singapore did not announce a deadline for the couple’s departure.

At the Lee Kuan Yew School, Mr Huang also was the Lee Foundation professor on United States-China relations. As of Saturday, his biography page had been removed from the school’s website.

In the preface to one of his books, Mr Huang writes about his early years in China, where he says he was sent to Yunnan province for “re-education” as a teenager during the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s.

He later studied history and English at Fudan University and Sichuan University before going to the United States and earning a PhD in government at Harvard, according to a screenshot of the deleted web page.

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