A German citizen who was identified by Chinese media as a role model and who wrote a blog exposing societal problems in rural China claimed Sunday that the abrupt closure of his blog had nothing to do with a reported threat of deportation by authorities.
Eckart Loewe, 42, a Hamburg native, known as Lu Anke in Chinese, had been voluntarily teaching pupils in remote Chinese villages for more than 10 years.
He told the Global Times that he would stay while continuing to teach on a voluntary basis at a primary school in Banlie village, Hechi City, in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, until the end of October, when his visa expires.
The Hong Kong-based Ming Pao newspaper reported Saturday that Loewe had received a warning from the regional public security department that he is not qualified to be a volunteer or teacher because he lacked the qualifications.
If he continues to write about Chinese education and those left-behind children, he would be punished or even deported, the paper said in a report.
"At the request of the relevant departments, I make the following statement: I have no formal status as a volunteer, and I am not credentialed to teach in China," Loewe wrote in a message on his blog as an elaboration about the closure, without referring to any official organ.
"So as not to damage your self-respect, I should not have interfered in the matter of left-behind children," he wrote.
Loewe's story was first made public by China Central Television (CCTV) at the end of last year, despite his apparent attempt to keep a low profile.
"I received many e-mails after the interview with CCTV. Some told me that they felt embarrassed that a foreigner gets involved in the issue of left-behind children, which they say should be dealt with by the Chi-nese government," Loewe said Sunday.
"I just don't want to hurt their feelings or make them feel bad for my actions."
Loewe stressed that he didn't receive any pressure from the local authorities to close his blog.
"In fact, I have gotten great support from the local government, including the education bureau and police bureau since I came here." Loewe said Sunday.
Calls to the Public Security Department of Guangxi went unanswered Sunday.
As early as October 1997, the year he first arrived in China, Loewe, who was then a volunteer teacher in Nanning Occupational School for the Disabled in Guangxi, was fined 3,000 yuan for violating immigration law.
And in 1999 he was urged to stop teaching as he tried to promote the Waldorf teaching methods at a middle school but failed due to students' poor academic performances.
In his past 10 years in Guangxi, he has never asked to be paid from the local school and has kept his monthly costs at less than 200 yuan ($29), which comes from his parents back in Germany, media reports said.
But the German, who was nominated by CCTV in 2006 as an individual who inspires the country, due to his past experience, admitted that he has no volunteer and teaching qualifications issued by any Chinese authorities, as he declared in his blog.
In 2006, Loewe had to return to Germany because his application for Chinese nationality for the first time was rejected.
According to relevant Chinese laws, those who have "made special contributions" to China can apply for Chinese nationality.
He returned to China in 2007 thanks to an invitation by the Guangxi Committee of the Communist Youth League of China to visit the country, and he has been here since then.
"My visa will expire at the end of October, this year and I was told by the Public Security Department of Guangxi that the visa can't be extended again," he said.
Loewe said he is still discussing with the Youth League to find a way to stay, but they have yet to find a solution.
"I'll try to come back again, as I can't leave my students," he said.
Foreign teachers can easily be found at the country's teaching institutions, from universities to kindergartens.
But many do not have appropriate certificates, especially in private schools.
An insider with a private kindergarten in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, told the Global Times Sunday that some foreign teachers at her kindergarten do not have teaching certificates.