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Dutch University Human Rights Center Received Funding From China; Researchers Defended China Human Rights Policy

January 24th, 2022 14:48

Dutch media report­ed last week that a human rights research cen­ter at a lead­ing Dutch uni­ver­si­ty whose affil­i­at­ed researchers have reg­u­lar­ly cham­pi­oned Chi­na’s human rights pol­i­cy has received hun­dreds of thou­sands of Euros in fund­ing from Chi­na. Accord­ing to a NOS report:

Jan­u­ary 19, 2022   A research cen­ter of the Vri­je Uni­ver­siteit (VU) in Ams­ter­dam is con­duct­ing research into human rights with the help of mon­ey from a Chi­nese uni­ver­si­ty. This is evi­dent from doc­u­ments in the hands of the NOS. Pro­fes­sors at the cen­ter reg­u­lar­ly argue for an alter­na­tive view of human rights, includ­ing when it comes to Chi­na.  The VU’s Cross Cul­tur­al Human Rights Cen­ter (CCHRC) received between 250,000 and 300,000 euros a year in 2018 , 2019 and 2020 , accord­ing to the doc­u­ments. The mon­ey will come from the South­west Uni­ver­si­ty of Polit­i­cal Sci­ence and Law in Chongqing. Uni­ver­si­ties in Chi­na are close­ly linked to the polit­i­cal regime, the com­mu­nist par­ty. Until this year, the uni­ver­si­ty in Chongqing was the sole fun­der of the research cen­ter.  Com­mit­ted pro­fes­sors asso­ci­at­ed with the cen­ter reg­u­lar­ly cham­pi­on Chi­na’s human rights pol­i­cy. This is strik­ing because the coun­try has been under fire for years for human rights issues, for exam­ple in the Xin­jiang region . The VU denies that aca­d­e­m­ic inde­pen­dence is at stake, but experts who con­sult­ed the NOS ques­tion this and speak of an unusu­al financ­ing con­struc­tion. [Trans­lat­ed with Google Translate]

Read the full report here.

The report notes that promi­nent employ­ees of the Chi­na-fund­ed Cross Cul­tur­al Human Rights Cen­ter (CCHRC) have reg­u­lar­ly made state­ments that reflect the offi­cial line of the Chi­nese com­mu­nist par­ty. CCHRC Direc­tor Pro­fes­sor Tom Zwart said in an inter­view with the Chi­nese state tele­vi­sion CGTN that “the think­ing of human rights should not be left to politi­cians, espe­cial­ly not to West­ern politi­cians.” Anoth­er employ­ee, pro­fes­sor Peter Peverel­li, denounced reports about forced labor in the Uyghur region of Xin­jiang as ‘lies’ by West­ern media.

After Dutch media revealed that fund­ing for the CCHRC came from Chi­na, the Vri­je Uni­ver­siteit Ams­ter­dam announced it would cut fund­ing from Chi­na and return some of the money.

Chi­na has also fund­ed pro­grams or pro­fes­sor­ships at uni­ver­si­ties in Berlin, Cam­bridge, and Budapest.