Scottish media is reporting that according to a former Chinese diplomat, China tries to control its international students studying at Scottish universities through student associations, According to an article in The National:
March 28, 2021 Chen Yonglin was first secretary at the Chinese Consulate in Sydney before he defected to Australia in 2005. He became a whistleblower about the persecution of Falun Gong in China, revealing its consulate in Sydney had an “anti-Falun Gong working group”, dedicated to monitoring and countering Falun Gong practitioners and supporters in Australia.In an exclusive interview with The Ferret, Chen claimed that Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSA) based at universities in Scotland try to control international students on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) which rules China. […]
Chen, who now works as a researcher for the Sydney Network for Democracy, told The Ferret that consulates seek to monitor Chinese students who study abroad through the CSSA. He said: “Every university has a CSSA. They were installed by the Chinese consulates and embassies. And they want to control students, they want to give them some favour, some small favour, and ask them to register. And the student associations act knowing they have consulate protection.
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According to its website, the Chinese Students and Scholars Associations was established in 1988 and has over 150,000 registered members and 100 subsidiary associations throughout the UK. The Nation article notes that the CSSA regularly collaborates with Confucius Institutes in the UK. Confucian Institutes are public educational partnerships between colleges and universities in China and colleges and universities in other countries that have been criticized as a soft power tool for China to spread propaganda under the guise of teaching.
Past Global Influence Operations (GIOR) coverage of Chinese influence operations in the UK has included:
- In March, we reported that the Chinese government is funding British YouTubers to further its propaganda war.
- In March, we reported that the UK had revoked the TV license for China Global Television Network (CGTN), concluding that it is a propaganda channel ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
- In February, we reported that the “EU-China Friendship Group” was suspended following a decision by the European Parliament that the group was too close to the Chinese government. The group was formerly chaired by former UK MP Nirj Deva.
- In January, we reported that a leaked database of registered Chinese Communist Party members indicates that party members are currently employed in British consulates, universities, and for some of the UK’s leading companies.