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Oxford Academic Hands Out “Meaningless” Academic Award to Hong Kong Businessman

October 14th, 2020 06:38

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.

Read the rest here.