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UK Government to ban Confucius Institutes from UK universities following activist campaigning

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

NEWSLETTER: UK Government to ban Confucius Institutes from UK universities following activist campaigning

Jimmy Lai’s 75th Birthday British citizen Jimmy Lai turns 75 today, Friday 4th November, in solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison in Hong Kong. Despite being born on 4th November, Lai grew up not knowing his birthday until much later in life, so has previously celebrated his birthday on the 8th of December. Mr Lai is currently being held without bail as he awaits trial on specious charges of conspiracy to publish seditious materials and collusion with foreign powers to endanger national security. He was recently convicted on sham charges including unlawful assembly and fraud by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) puppet regime in Hong Kong. He has already served his prison sentence for his part in peaceful pro-democracy activities in 2019 and 2020. This man of peace, a UK citizen, should be with his family on his 75th birthday, not spending his 674th consecutive day behind bars. To watch him suffer and do nothing should be unconscionable. It is therefore the duty of the UK Government, in its role as a protector of its citizens around the world, to demand his immediate and unequivocal release. Committee News The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation’s (CFHK Foundation) Frances Hui detailed her experiences of being harassed and threatened by the Chinese Communist Party since moving to the US in the Washington Examiner. Frances detailed how after a rally in Boston in 2019 a man began to vandalize her posters before following her back to her dorm in an attempt to intimidate her. Sadly, this story is not unique, and the US Government must do more to stand up to this type of behaviour. Our Washington Director Olivia Enos joined Dan Runde on his podcast ‘Building the Future: Freedom, Prosperity and Foreign Policy’ this week. On the podcast, Olivia discussed the CFHK Foundation’s recent work, as well as the ongoing effects of the Chinese-imposed National Security Law, the US-Hong Kong relationship, and how listeners can help political prisoners in Hong Kong. Listen to the full episode here. The CFHK Foundation’s President Mark Clifford’s book Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow the World is among those which will need prior registration to access at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) library. Clifford is an alumnus of HKU, where he received his PhD in History. Now, instead of celebrating the work of a former student, the University is acting as a blunt instrument on behalf of the CCP as it advances its campaign to extinguish any remote suggestion of dissent. Mark and Frances are also taking part in a panel event following the screening of the documentary ‘The Hong Konger’ in New York on Thursday 10th November. The event is open to Columbia University students and faculty. Register here to attend. Hong Kong Financial Summit The CFHK Foundation ran a full-page advertisement in The Harvard Crimson calling on American financial executives to drop out of the Global Financial Leaders Investment Summit which was held in Hong Kong this week. The advertisement, which ran on Friday, October 28th, was part of the Committee’s ongoing efforts to condemn participation in the conference, which will be used as propaganda to increase foreign investment in the region. On Tuesday, CFHK Foundation President Mark Clifford took part in a discussion organised by the Hong Kong Democracy Council titled “Business NOT as Usual: Hong Kong’s Whitewashing Finance Summit.” Listen in full here. On the evening of Tuesday 25th October, the CFHK Foundation illuminated buildings in New York’s financial district calling on Wall Street to boycott the conference organised by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Scholz’s Visit to China The CFHK Foundation signed an open letter, alongside 70 other human rights organizations, calling on Olaf Scholz, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, to reconsider his visit to Beijing. CFHK Foundation President Mark Clifford, said: “It’s outrageous that Olaf Scholz would be planning a visit to Beijing at a time when China’s human rights abuses are rife and not just within its own borders.” Despite calls from international organizations for the Chancellor to cancel his trip to China, he kept his plans to head to Beijing at the end of the week. Scholz is the first representative of a liberal democracy to be granted a state visit to China since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2019, reported The Guardian. Chinese Secret Police Stations The CFHK Foundation called on the UK Government to follow the Irish Government and order the Chinese embassy to close police stations operating in secret in Glasgow and London. CFHK Foundation President Mark Clifford said: “The fact that the CCP has set up its own ‘police stations’ around the world is just incredible… If the UK Government doesn’t act fast, it is putting Chinese and Hong Kongers’ lives at risk.” Following the discovery of a secret Chinese police station in Glasgow, Mark Sabah from the CFHK Foundation told The Times that those seeking asylum in the UK away from the Chinese regime are being “followed, harassed, attacked and intimidated and that’s why many are still wearing masks. They are worried about being recognised and their families back home being threatened.” The Netherlands has announced that overseas Chinese police stations must be closed immediately, as they were set up without approval from the government to monitor Chinese people and intimidate CCP critics. Foreign Affairs Minister Wopke Hoekstra called the secret police stations “unacceptable”, and said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will investigate what activities took place and pledged “to leave no stone unturned,” reported NL Times. Hong Kong Chow Hang-tung, former vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which was disbanded by the Hong Kong Government, was banned from using the words “Tiananmen massacre” in court. During the trial, Chow repeatedly said "Tiananmen Massacre” and “killing”, before the judge ordered for the words not to be used, instead referring to it as the “June-Fourth Incident” - in order to “not bring politics to court,” reported The Epoch Times. UK-China relations UK Security Minister Tom Tugendhat has told members of Parliament that the government will ban Chinese Confucius Institutes at UK universities, fulfilling Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s leadership campaign promise. Tugendhat backed the sentiment and said the institutions “pose a threat to civil liberties in many universities in the United Kingdom,” reported City A.M. Newcastle council has voted to de-twin from Taiyuan, in the Shanxi province, with which it has been twinned since 1985, after an academic at Newcastle University became the first British scholar to be sanctioned by Beijing. Jo Smith Finley is a reader in Chinese studies who was sanctioned in March last year for spreading what Beijing calls “lies and disinformation,” reported The Times. UK politicians have called on Tottenham Hotspur Football Club to sever ties with its main sponsor, Chinese company AIA, which has publicly supported Hong Kong’s National Security Law, reported The Times. The Hong Kong All-Party Parliamentary Group has accused the club of “collaborating with supporters of human rights abuses in Hong Kong” and has emailed the club chairman calling for the club to end its partnership.

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