Uighur expert, professor at Kobe University, goes missing during trip home to China

JIJI, Kyodo

Wang Ke, a Chinese professor at Kobe University’s Faculty of Intercultural Studies, went missing on a visit to China earlier this month, the university said.

Wang is known for his studies on the restive Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region of China. The university said Saturday it is trying to confirm his whereabouts.

According to the university, Wang traveled to China on March 1.

On March 10, when he was scheduled to come back, Wang called his family in Japan saying his return would be delayed by about 10 days because he was going to see his ill mother in Xi’an, Shaanxi province. Since then, his family and the university have been unable to contact him.

Wang’s family got in touch with his mother in Xi’an and found he had not visited. He also was absent from a symposium in Singapore he planned to participate in from Friday.

Wang completed his doctorate at the University of Tokyo in 1994 and was appointed as a professor at Kobe University in 2001. In 1996, he received the Suntory Prize for Social Sciences and Humanities for his research on the defunct East Turkestan Republic, focused on the early 20th century Uighur independence movement.

Wang’s disappearance follows that of another Japan-based Chinese scholar, Zhu Jianrong, who went missing while visiting his home city of Shanghai last July.

The Chinese government detained Zhu, an expert on Chinese politics and diplomacy and a professor at Toyo Gakuen University in Nagareyama, Chiba Prefecture, for six months before releasing him in January. During his period in detention, Zhu is believed to have been interrogated by Chinese authorities on possible charges of espionage.