Singapore bans Chinese-American scholar as foreign agent

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SINGAPORE (AP) — Singapore's government on Friday declared a scholar of Chinese studies with a prestigious appointment at a local think tank persona non grata, alleging that he has been identified as an agent of influence of a foreign country.

An announcement by the Home Affairs Ministry did not identify the country, but said that Huang Jing, a U.S. citizen, knowingly worked with intelligence organizations and agents of that country to attempt to influence Singapore's foreign policy and public opinion.

It charged that from his position at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, he tried to influence opinion in favor of the unnamed country and recruited others to help him.

The ministry said the permanent resident status of Huang and his wife, Yang Xiuping, has been canceled and they are banned from re-entering Singapore.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper reported that it spoke to Huang in Singapore and he denied the allegations.

"It's nonsense to identify me as 'an agent of influence' for a foreign country," he said, according to the newspaper. "And why didn't they identify which foreign country they're referring to? Is it the U.S. or China?"

It cited him as saying he would seek help from his lawyer and the U.S. Embassy in Singapore.

"If they have evidence, they should take me to court," it quoted him as saying.

The newspaper said Huang "is known for his Beijing-friendly stance in regular articles for international and mainland Chinese publications."

The Home Ministry announcement said Huang "engaged prominent and influential Singaporeans and gave them what he claimed was 'privileged information' about the foreign country, so as to influence their opinions in favor of that country." It did not explain the nature of the information.

It said that when Huang gave such information to a senior member of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, it was forwarded to senior members of Singapore's government with the intention of changing the country's foreign policy.

"However, the Singapore government declined to act on the 'privileged information,'" the statement said.

Huang held two positions at the Lee Kuan Yew School: director of the Centre on Asia and Globalisation and Lee Foundation Professor on U.S.-China relations. He also chaired projects studying China-India relations and the energy policies of China, Japan and the United States.

The Straits Times, a Singaporean newspaper close to the government, said Huang holds a 1995 PhD in government from Harvard University, where he also lectured in 2013-14, and had been a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, D.C.

The newspaper said Huang served on the board of several organizations in Singapore, including the company Keppel Land, part of one of the country's major conglomerates.

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