China expert Kerry Brown urged British universities not to self-censor and to hold firmly to the debate on Hong Kong rights rather than trying to appease the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Brown says the CCP is very sensitive and now that it is increasing the repression against the people of Hong Kong it is even more sensitive, so some universities may try to flatter it to avoid retaliation, according to the Daily Mail on July 9.
Brown, who is a professor of Chinese studies at King’s College in London, said universities should strive to maintain a “neutral space” for debate so that the historical flow of events can be followed.
He also noted the risk to families and individuals associated with researchers in China, who may be imprisoned as a deterrent.
“Others are involved in field research in sensitive ethnic minority areas, or around potentially contentious social policy issues like land ownership reform or migrant laborer rights,” and it is they in particular who are at risk, according to Brown.
Brown insists that universities outside China must be aware of this situation and understand it well.
This should not be an obstacle for academic staff to continue discussing the country’s treatment of human rights, and their involvement in Hong Kong.
As is well known, universities are highly dependent on the income generated by foreign students, and in particular, those allowed to attend by the CCP, so it is to be expected that the CCP will use such a situation as a form of coercion.
For Australia, this issue is sensitive, since the CCP has already tried to dissuade students and tourists from traveling to China, as one of the punishments against that country for requesting an investigation of the procedure applied to the CCP Virus that appeared in Wuhan and that is still causing so much damage worldwide.
Threats and reprisals are methods frequently used by the CCP in order to consolidate its power, however, there is a growing international awakening to these abuses and several countries are preparing to counter the attacks from the CCP.