September 11, 2019

Cambridge and Peking Universities to launch partnership amid concern over Chinese influence
Cambridge University and Peking University are in talks to launch a business school partnership in southern China. Mark Welland, deputy vice chancellor of Cambridge, and Christopher Loch, director of the Judge Business School, visited Peking University’s business school in Shenzhen last week, meeting with university officials and city mayor Chen Rugui. Details are still being hammered out, though they could be finalised before the end of the year, according to Peking University. The planned business school collaboration could be “developed into other areas” in the future, Mr Welland told state media. Cambridge already has a UK-based partnership for the China Centre at Jesus College, and recent talks follow on from a MOU signed in March with Peking University. Plans to expand Cambridge’s ties with the Beijing-based institution comes as concerns increase globally from human rights groups, academics and politicians that Chinese institutions and students - at home or abroad - could pose a threat to Western academic and civil freedoms. “The [Chinese Communist Party’s] prime aim is to control its own students,” said a report this year by the Royal United Services Institute. “A secondary aim is to exercise broader control over the narrative about China. Such action, on UK soil, affects UK students and undermines UK values, particularly those of freedom of speech and association.”  The globe sculpture by Mark Wallinger at LSE has been defaced to show Taiwan as part of China Credit: Eddie Mulholland for The Telegraph Multiple clashes have erupted in the UK, US, Australia, and Canada and other countries between mainland Chinese and foreign students over human rights issues and border disputes. In April, the London School of Economics came under pressure from students over a Mark Wallinger globe sculpture that had Taiwan and China as different colours, indicating they are separate nations.  Taiwan is a de facto independent state, but is considered a breakaway province by the Chinese government. Students upset by the delineations continually defaced the sculpture. Last year, Cornell University in the US suspended two exchange programs over concerns its partner institution, Renmin University of China, had punished, surveilled or suppressed students supporting labor rights protests that had erupted over the summer. Worries have also been highlighted about the potential for proprietary academic research to be improperly transferred to China. China is the biggest source of international students in the UK- roughly one in four, according to data from the UK Council for International Student Affairs, a lobby group.   For Cambridge, a partnership in Shenzhen would also come as the government implements a development plan to integrate southern China with nearby semi-autonomous territories Hong Kong and Macau, dubbed the “Greater Bay Area.” Shenzhen – once a tiny fishing village – has already benefitted enormously over the last three decades by becoming a testing ground for various economic reforms, developing rapidly to become China’s Silicon Valley, home to tech giants including telecoms firm Huawei.  Now, Beijing wants to turn Shenzhen into a model municipality, last month establishing the city as “a pilot demonstration area of socialism with Chinese characteristics.” The authorities have used ambitious language to describe its goal of turning the city into a global innovation hub while giving scant policy details. Part of that is focusing on higher education, which the city has prioritised in recent years. Aside from Peking University’s business school campus, Shenzhen is also home to university partnerships with Chinese and foreign institutions, including Tsinghua University, Lomonosov Moscow State University and the University of California, Berkeley. A spokesperson for Cambridge University said: “The Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS) is involved in an ongoing project with Peking University HSBC Business School, focusing on executive education and an initiative to support and encourage current PHBS students to apply to CJBS for their post-graduate education. “Although the University is keen to explore possibilities for wider collaboration with Peking University, this proposal does not involve the creation of a school or campus in Shenzhen.”
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