Chinese ambassador to UK dismisses academic freedom interference

The Chinese ambassador to Britain on Tuesday slammed the British parliament for its "groundless" accusation against his country of interfering with academic freedom in British universities. 

Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, in a signed article in the Financial Times, said the recent House of Commons foreign affairs select committee report, which accused China of "interfering" with academic freedom in British universities, is "groundless and highly misleading." 

"On the contrary, educational exchanges enhance understanding between the peoples of the two countries," he said. 

There are now more than 100,000 Chinese students in the UK, and several thousand British students studying in China. In the UK, more than 600 schools are offering Chinese language courses and more than 190,000 people are studying Chinese in 30 Confucius Institutes and 161 Confucius classrooms, according to the ambassador. 

"China is committed to the principle of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs and respects academic freedom," Liu said. "I believe it has never, and will never, exert any political influence on normal academic activities in British universities." 

Stoking ideological prejudice for narrow political gain, or under pressure from other countries, will damp the enthusiasm of students and researchers from both countries, according to the ambassador. 

"It will also further undermine academic cooperation between China and the UK," he said. 

Liu said anyone with a long-term vision for Sino-British relations should support and promote academic exchange and cooperation. 

Britain's policy paper on "International Education Strategy," published in March this year, describes Britain as a world leader in higher education, boasting that its institutions are among "the most renowned and prestigious in the world." 

"For claims like this to be credible, the UK should display leadership in continuing to promote cooperation," Liu said. "China stands ready to work with the UK to advance the cause not only of educational exchange, but also of promoting mutual learning between east and west."

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency