The Chinese Scholar And  His Six Runaway Wives

This is the kind of news story that is quite likely to be short-changed.

On June 23, there is a brief mention in ChineseNewsNet of the following:

Zheng Jiadong, a researcher at the School of Philosophy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the director of the Chinese Philosophy Research Center was arrested in Beijing.  A worker at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences confirmed the arrest over the telephone, but she said that the Academy will not comment on this case.

What to think of this?

A few weeks ago, in the matter of Strait Times reporter Ching Cheong (see Grand Unification of Theories about the Case of Ching Cheong), it was disclosed that two members of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences had been arrested.  Ching Cheong was found to have the internal speeches of Chinese leaders on his laptop computer, and the two arrested CASS researchers were believed to be the source of that information.  Is the arrest of Zheng Jiadong related?

The ChineseNewsNet article lists the biography of Zheng Jiadong -- bachelor degree from Heilonnjiang University in 1982, master degree from Jilin University in 1985 and doctorate from Nankai University in 1991; appointment to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 1993.  However, Zheng was not engaged in international or domestic policy analyses.  His general areas were Chinese philosophy and comparative philosophy, and his specialization was Confucian philosophy and its history.  He had no national secrets to give away.

In the absence of more information, there is nothing left but speculation, especially with respect to any connection with the Ching Cheong case or the freedom of thought in China.

On June 24, Sing Tao offered a more detailed explanation, and this is decidedly strange.

Zheng Jiadong was an internationally renowned scholar in his field, and has attended numerous conferences and given many lectures around the world, including the United States.

It came to the attention of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Services that Zheng Jiadong had visited the United States many times.  On six of these occasions, he came with his wife.  But then the wives did not return with him, and are overstaying beyond the terms of their visas.  You will have noted the change from 'wife' on each occasion to 'wives' across time.  Yes, you got that right.  It was a different female on each of the six occasions.

As a result, the United States INS is under the belief that Zheng Jiadong may have engaged in smuggling females into the United States by using his visiting scholar status and informed the Chinese authorities of their suspicions.  The Beijing police then arrested Zheng Jiadong two weeks ago.

It is one thing to have a runaway wife.  But six in a row is a bit much.

Chinese blogger Anti had this thought: Right now, everyone is spitting at Zheng for being in the people-smuggling business.  What if the six women turned out to be persecuted human rights dissidents?  Then overnight, Zheng becomes the western media darling again.  Since we know nothing really, we should stop editorializing one way or the other.