UK media is reporting on the awarding of what was described as a” meaningless” academic qualification to a Hong King businessman tied to Chinese authorities. According to the Guardian report the incident was the latest to raise concerns about Chinese influence on higher education in the UK:
An Oxford academic handed out a “meaningless” university qualification to a Hong Kong businessman with ties to the Chinese authorities at a high-profile ceremony in Shanghai last year, in the latest incident to raise concerns about Chinese influence on UK higher education. Alan Hudson awarded the title “Belt and Road Academician from Oxford University” to Chan King Wai, who is a member of an advisory body to China’s rubber-stamp parliament, at a ceremony attended by an official from the British consulate and dozens of other people. The belt and road initiative is a major foreign and economic policy project which has been at the heart of China’s increasingly assertive international presence under its president, Xi Jinping. Oxford University only gives a handful of honorary degrees at the Encaenia ceremony each year. Hudson, who has now retired from his position at Oxford, confirmed he had created the title given to Chan, and that it did not carry any official weight. “I looked up the meaning of ‘academician’ and it is absolutely meaningless, it means anybody involved with the university, of any description. So I said there you go, we can put that on the certificate. In recognition of his contributions to the programme.
The GIOR reported earlier on the US designation of the Chinese Confucian Institutes as Foreign Missions.
Confucian Institutes are public educational partnerships between colleges and universities in China and colleges and universities in other countries. In 2019, Inside Higher Ed described Confucian Institutes as follows:
The Confucius Institutes have long been controversial. The centers vary somewhat across different campuses, but they typically offer some combination of Mandarin language classes, cultural programming and outreach to K‑12 schools and the community more broadly. They are staffed in part with visiting teachers from China and funded by the Chinese government, with matching resources provided by the host institution. The number of U.S. universities hosting the institutes increased rapidly after the first was established at the University of Maryland College Park in 2004, growing to more than 90 at the peak.
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