Human Rights Watch: NI uni should close institute linked to Chinese Communist Party

A spokeswoman for one of the world’s largest rights-based campaign groups has said Ulster University should end its ties with China’s ruling regime.

Monday, 26th April 2021, 10:59 am
Image (from PA) of Xi Jinping - the Chinese leader (centre) - at a communist party gathering

Human Rights Watch is one of the global organisations cataloguing the Chinese abuses against the Uyghur ethnic minority in Xinjiang.

It estimates that the Chinese government has been detaining civilians in a network of up to 400 facilities.

It comes as the News Letter reports that the university will neither reveal details of its funding arrangements with China, nor condemn its actions in Xinjiang.

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Human Rights Watch China director Sophie Richardson was blunt in her remarks to the News Letter.

“Reject Confucius Institutes,” she said.

“Refrain from having Confucius Institutes on campuses, as they are fundamentally incompatible with a robust commitment to academic freedom.”

She added: “I’ll confess to being puzzled at Ulster University’s comment about the financial relationship with the Confucius Institute being ‘commercially sensitive’.

“Confucius Institutes are not a commercial entity; they are in effect an arm of the Chinese government.

“I don’t know whether Ulster University is a public or a private institution, but regardless: is this commercially – or politically – sensitive?”

The House of Commons last Thursday voted – without any objections – to recognise the treatment of Uyghurs as amounting to “crimes against humanity and genocide”.

The motion was brought by Tory MP Nusrat Ghani, and during the discussion DUP MP Jim Shannon noted that “the religious activities of the country’s more than 70m Christians, 10m Falun Gong and 8m Tibetan Buddhists are also severely restricted” – adding that “much more needs to be done to hold the Chinese Communist Party to account”.

In terms of what this might involve, Sheldon Stone of the World Uyghur Congress suggested that NI’s MPs should press the government to extend sanctions on Chinese officials, lobby the UK Olympic Committee to make a statement ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, and encourage companies to “gradually move their supply chains out of China”.

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