WASHINGTON—The Chinese government will not allow astrophysicist Fang Lizhi to come to the United States this year because of the potential "destabilizing" influence of such a visit on Chinese students in this country.

Word of that decision came in a recent letter to scientists and administrators at the University of California at Santa Cruz, who had invited Fang for a month-long visit of lectures and joint research at the university's Lick Observatory. Last winter Fang was stripped of his position as vice president of the prestigious University of Science and Technology in Hefei, as well as his party membership, for his role in efforts to open up Chinese society. The movement spread across the country's scientific and intellectual community before it was reined in this past winter by party officials. Fang is now a researcher at the Beijing observatory.

"I would very much like to accept your kind offer," Fang...

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