onsdag 26. januar 2022

Dutch university gives up Chinese funding due to impartiality concerns

A decision by a leading Dutch university to refuse all further Chinese funding for a controversial study centre has sparked fresh concern about Beijing’s apparent attempts to influence debate at European educational institutions. Amsterdam’s Vrije Universiteit (VU), the fourth largest university in the Netherlands, has said it will accept no further money from the Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing and repay sums it recently received.

The announcement came after an investigation by the Dutch public broadcaster NOS last week revealed VU’s Cross Cultural Human Rights Center (CCHRC) had received between €250,000 (£210,000) and €300,000 annually from Southwest over the past few years. According to NOS, the CCHRC used Southwest’s money to fund a regular newsletter, organise seminars and maintain its website – which has published several posts rejecting western criticism of China’s human rights policy.

The CCHRC website was temporarily taken offline on Tuesday. A statement said the centre had concluded not all publications on the site were “compatible with its vision” of human rights. It also wanted to check a “sufficiently clear distinction” was made between statements made on its behalf and “opinions and observations made in a personal capacity”.