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British Prime Minister orders policy change towards China following report by CFHK

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

10 October 2022 – This weekend, following a report by the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation (CFHK) and the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), the Prime Minister ordered a change in government policy to recognize the pervasive influence of Confucius Institutes in British universities. Despite their ostensible purpose being to teach Mandarin and promote Chinese culture, these organisations were found to delve into politics and business, enforce Chinese Communist Party (CCP) political orthodoxy on issues related to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang, and are largely funded by a state-owned propaganda company. Operating under the umbrella of prestigious universities, Confucius Institutes have been informing government policy and politicians, assisting the establishment of science and technology partnerships that potentially threaten national security, offering consultancy services to businesses, promoting trade, running academic events supposed to shine a light on Chinese policy, and cooperating with UK organizations that work with the United Front Work Department (UFWD), the CCP’s above-ground arm whose interference activities were recently highlighted by MI5. Following coverage of the report, the Prime Minister stepped in to overrule the Department for Education, which was astonishingly willing to overlook the malign covert activities of Confucius Institutes in the UK. A spokesperson for Liz Truss stated on Sunday that “the UK government is committed to doing more to adapt to China’s growing impact.” Responding to the Prime Minister’s decision to overrule the UK’s Department for Education, Mark Clifford, President of the CFHK, said: “We strongly welcome the actions of the Prime Minister in response to our report on the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to covertly disperse its propaganda and establish influence in the UK at some of the country’s most prominent universities. “Beijing’s efforts to spread its propaganda and extend its control over dissenters around the globe knows no limits. The CFHK is committed to working against that malign influence emanating from Beijing and seeking to push back against its authoritarian creep worldwide. “The UK has acted as a refuge for Hong Kongers forced from their homes by the authoritarian actions of the CCP. However, this report must be a warning to the British government and those internationally that they cannot overlook the willingness of the CCP to use whatever means necessary to advance its interests at the expense of democratic values. “For the sake of British democracy, the UK’s next action must be to outlaw these institutions.” James Spencer, Director of Communications at the Henry Jackson Society, commented: “Our report into the Confucius Institutes shows that there needs to be considerably more due diligence about the impact that the Chinese Communist Party has on our academic institutions. “It is extremely concerning that successive administrations have allowed Confucius Institutes to expand their influence unchecked for years. “Therefore, it is extremely welcome that, following our report, the Government has made it emphatically clear to the Department for Education that it must reverse its supportive language of Chinese influence in education.” Report: Confucius Institutes: The CCP in British Universities - Henry Jackson Society The report by the CFHK and HJS investigated thirty Confucius Institutes around the UK, including those at the London School of Economics (LSE) and the University of Edinburgh. While the study identified over £33 million in funding from China to British universities, many of the universities did not offer full or even partial disclosure of funding, meaning the actual amount is more likely to be around £43-46 million. Confucius Institutes afford the CCP political, financial and cultural influence. The institutes hold events the include political stakeholders, with a number of the events taking place in both houses of the UK Parliament. Confucius Institutes have also integrated themselves into the political spheres and parliaments of both Scotland and Wales. On Wednesday 12th October, CFHKF and the Henry Jackson Society will host an event to launch the report.The panel will include Bob Seely MP, Steven Vines, writer and CFHKF advisory board member, Sam Dunning, co-author of the report, Louisa Clarence-Smith, education editor at The Telegraph, and Sam Armstrong, journalist, and former director of communications at Henry Jackson Society. Register for the event here: Confucius Institutes: The CCP in British Universities - Henry Jackson Society Key Recommendations In spite of the political attention paid to Confucius Institutes in the past six months – and the press and academic attention paid during the last six years – this pattern has gone unnoticed, and its ramifications have been ignored. The report calls on the UK government to reverse the damage caused by Confucius Institutes. Key recommendations:

  1. The UK Government must set aside a £5 million fund for critical China studies (Sinology)

  2. Further efforts should be made by universities and Government to build language-teaching capacity with other countries that are not ruled by authoritarian states but where large numbers of Mandarin speakers live

  3. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) must urgently conduct a full investigation of the legality of Confucius Institute hiring practices, and enforce compliance with existing equality legislation

  4. Legislation should be introduced to remove Confucius Institutes from British universities

About CFHK The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong presses for political and economic consequences for China’s failure to keep its promises to respect Hong Kong’s freedoms; supports the rule of law, freedom of expression, and the release of political prisoners; and urges the business community to stand against China’s assault on freedom and the danger it poses to Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre. Hong Kong’s fate is linked to the preservation of freedom, democracy, and international law in the region and around the world. For more information, please contact: @thecfhk

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