According to academic references, the training program is highly regarded by a branch of the Chinese Communist Party and plays a “vital role in China’s interaction with global enterprises.”
“It would appear that there are a number of questions hanging over Jesus College and its links with the Chinese organizations in question,” said Martin Thorley, a researcher at the University of Exeter specializing in relations between the Sino-British elites. .
“[Jesus College] could start by publishing information on internal discussions around the formation of these relationships, as well as on the people and channels involved in the initial negotiations with the Chinese entities themselves.
Students are now campaigning to raise awareness of these issues and put pressure on Jesus College “to ensure real academic freedom”.
Aurelio Petrucci, former head of the college’s students’ union, described Nolan’s comments on Uyghurs as “beyond the limits” and said that Jesus College behaved “in an opaque manner when asked for information or commitments to change “.
“They declined meetings to allow students to openly discuss the matter with the college leadership, insisting instead that any engagement go through the controlled environment of the China Center Advisory Board,” he said.
The students are also asking for full financial transparency about the college’s ties to China and a commitment not to accept funding from the Chinese state or Huawei.
The campaign received support from the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, a group of nearly 200 legislators from 20 democracies around the world, including several dozen British MPs.
“Jesus College needs to be clear about its obscure ties to Chinese state-backed donors,” alliance coordinator Luke of Pulford told openDemocracy. “Failure to do so will only cast further doubt on the reputation of the college. We cannot allow our world-class universities to be bribed into being silent on some of the most pressing debates of our time. “
“No subject is off limits”
Responding to this survey, Nolan said, “I support Jesus College’s position that no subject is off limits to academic discussions. At a College meeting last November, a group of academics and students debated the challenges inherent in organizing balanced events on contentious topics. Since then, the China Center has hosted events covering topics such as human rights, Uyghurs, Hong Kong and the potential war with China, with speakers representing a wide range of opinions. “
In a statement, Jesus College said it was “strongly committed to the principles of free speech and academic independence.”
He added: “We fully agree with Iain Duncan Smith that no opinion should be hushed up. Our position is that no subject is off limits, as demonstrated by the range of recent events hosted by the College. It is a dark day if outside forces succeed in inhibiting the academic debate. “