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.