SCOTTISH Universities have been condemned for accepting millions in funding for Confucius institutes from ‘corrupt and totalitarian’ Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
A recent freedom of information request by the Spectator revealed that Edinburgh and Strathclyde Universities accepted £11m in funding between them from Hanban.
Hanban is an organisation linked to the Chinese Ministry of Education that oversees and funds Confucius institutes, it’s council consists of members drawn from various CCP ministries.
Edinburgh University accepted £6m in funding while Strathclyde accepted £5.6m between 2006 and 2021 in a move that Free Tibet has condemned.
Free Tibet claims China is only interested in feeding propaganda and suppressing truth.
The FOI by the spectator revealed that £26m had been accepted by universities across the UK from Hanban with Edinburgh and Strathclyde accepting the most.
Hanban has since changed its name to the Chinese International Education Foundation.
Confucius institutes have been heavily criticised in the press since the project was launched in 2004 for creating undue CCP influence in the universities they are established in.
The Edinburgh Confucius institute was vandalised last year with graffiti reading “CCPHQ” appearing on its sign.
Li Changchun, former head of propaganda for the Chinese Communist Party has been widely quoted as saying Confucius Institutes are “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.”
While a report by the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission published in 2019 stated: “The Conservative Party Human Rights Commission believes that the question of the presence of Confucius Institutes in British universities requires immediate and urgent attention.
“We therefore call on Her Majesty’s Government to consider this report and respond to the concerns outlined.”
A 2019 article in the Guardian stated, “Universities are not adequately responding to the growing risk of China and other “autocracies” influencing academic freedom in the UK, the foreign affairs select committee has said.”
While a BBC article in the same year stated, “In recent weeks, a flurry of universities around the world have shut down programmes operated by the institute.
“In Australia, an investigation is even under way into whether agreements between universities and the institute have broken anti-foreign interference laws.”
The University of Leeds and Aberdeen have both ceased to accept funding from Hanban and the Ministry of Education for their institutes following the criticisms.
They now instead are finding funding from their respective partner universities in China.
But regardless of the numerous criticism’s Strathclyde and Edinburgh Universities continued to accept the funding up until 2020.
John Jones, Campaigns and Research Manager at Free Tibet said: “For decades the Chinese government has been working to eradicate Tibetan culture from its schools and replace it with propaganda.
“It has even resorted to arresting teachers and destroying schools in order to get its way.
“Xi Jinping and his government have no interest in furthering the education of students in Scotland, they simply want to feed them propaganda and suppress the truth about their brutal oppression.
“There is clear benefit for students learning the Chinese language and about China’s culture, but no university that believes in academic freedom can even consider accepting money from such a corrupt and totalitarian source.”
A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said: “Edinburgh’s Confucius Institute and the University of Edinburgh conducts open and critical debate about China alongside efforts to promote cultural outreach, knowledge exchange and dialogue.
“The University is committed to academic freedom and academic debate, and this is unaffected by its relationship with the Confucius Institute.
“All University partnerships undergo a rigorous due diligence assessment and are reviewed on an ongoing basis.
“The Institute has contributed to significant discussion of matters relating to contemporary China.”
While Strathclyde university commented: “Between 2012 and 2020, CISS received £4.4 million funding from Hanban, the governing body of China’s Confucius Institutes, which are partnerships established to promote the teaching of Chinese language and culture.
“The funding was used for Confucius Classroom hub schools around Scotland and for local authorities to recruit GTCS-registered teachers of Mandarin.
“In addition, £1.2 million Hanban funding to Strathclyde covered part of the cost of new office facilities for the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools, after it was awarded Model Confucius Institute status in 2017.”
The Chinese Government has been contacted for comment through their London Embassy but has not replied as of yet.
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