Manitoba Profs Wary Chinese Could Start Spying on Campus

Nick Martin, Ottawa Citizen, April 27, 2011

Could a Chinese government agency spy on University of Manitoba students and apply pressure against dissident activities?

That’s what some professors fear.

U of M Faculty Association president Prof. Cameron Morrill says the union is strongly opposed to a proposed deal that could bring the Confucius Institute to campus to teach non-credit language, history, and culture courses. But some professors are taking their concern far beyond the possibility of private contractors teaching on campus–they see far more sinister implications.

“They would supply the teachers from China. What they teach is only what the Chinese government through the (Chinese) education ministry approves of,” said Asian studies Prof. Terry Russell, speaking for several colleagues. “We’re not sure what the real motivation is.”

Russell said that the agency could be used to watch Chinese students, who are the largest group of international students at U of M.

“That would be one of their interests,” he said. “There isn’t a consulate–it would give them an agency to keep an eye on the students.”

Russell said the Chinese government could threaten to cut off U of M’s access to Chinese students if the university does not sign a deal with the Confucius Institute.

“They are a major source of income,” he pointed out.

The institute itself pays hundreds of thousands of dollars to rent space, Russell said, and some of its chapters at North American universities have switched from non-credit to credit courses.

“We have a real conflict of our principles of academic freedom,” with the potential to have a faculty version of Chinese history and a Confucius Institute version being taught on campus, Russell said.

There was no immediate response to an emailed request for comment from the Confucius Institute’s headquarters in China.

Russell said the Chinese government, through the Confucius Institute, could tell the U of M not to bring in certain speakers or hold certain events, such as having the Dalai Lama on campus or the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

“The very fact they’re considering it means they want to have a better relationship with the Chinese government. It brings a chill,” said Russell.

Morrill said that UMFA objects primarily to the possibility of U of M’s bringing a private teaching group onto campus, as it did with the private language school Navitas.

“We believe that control over the classroom exercised by any government, either foreign or domestic, is not consistent with the kind of education that the U of M aims to provide,” Morrill said. “Our publicly funded classroom facilities are already crowded and it is a disservice to U of M students and Manitoba taxpayers to take space away from U of M students to ‘rent’ to some outside entity.

“Instructors working for non-U of M agencies typically have none of the academic rights and protections that U of M professors and instructors have,” said the UMFA president.

U of M public affairs director John Danakas said that it is premature to discuss a deal that hasn’t even been put on the table, and which would have to be studied by campus administrators before going through the university senate.

“There is no proposal,” Danakas said. “At this point, it’s simply at the exploratory stage. Certainly, those kinds of matters would be discussed if there’s a formal proposal.”

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  • Anonymous

    Simply put, U of M’s professors of Asian studies don’t want the Confucius Institute to encroach on their academic territory. That is the crux of the matter and where most of the pre-emptive opposition is coming from. All those concerns about spying are secondary and probably unwarranted.

  • Carl

    They shouldn’t want to have the Falun Gong cult or the Dalai Lama on campus. Both groups are favourites of the politically correct elites, and they are falsely proclaimed as heroes and uncriticisable, despite all objective rational analysis showing they are nothing of the sort.

    The Falun Gong are an evil cult that brainwashes people into turning against their friends and family and country. It brainwashes them into thinking they are immune to SARS and Bird Flu. It lies constantly and shamelessly about everything. It’s not as bad as Scientology, but it’s up there with the other cults.

    Tibet was the most horrible slave-society you can imagine before the Chinese invaded. It was brutal and unjust like you could not believe. And people like the Dalai Lama were the top oppressors. Admittedly, the current Dalai Lama didn’t have a lot to do with that, but he isn’t exactly being honest about Tibet. He is a religious dictator with some very unpleasant ideas.

    That’s not to say Chinese dictators should be given political control of Western universities in exchange for cash. Just remember that “What they teach is only what the Chinese government through the (Chinese) education ministry approves of,” applies almost as much to Western governments and politically correct elites.

  • Chicagoan

    The Chinese government probably already has informants amongst the students now and always did. That should automatically be assumed and I would guess the Chinese students are already aware of that; they are probably wary of sticking their necks out if they plan on returning home.

  • joe

    Hey, we’ll do anything for money – sell out the country, sell out future generations, pander for more and more money, and so forth. The Chinese are laughing at us, and our ruling class doesn’t even care.

  • Anonymous

    The Chinese are already spying on campus you can bet. The Chinese have a VAST spying network, larger than any other country, which includes Chinese students. They are stealing information from campus, science labs are the prime target. http://tinyurl.com/3q3jk38

    The concern of the professors is warranted. The Chinese will force them to only invite speakers they agree with and the Chinese students will side with the Chinese government. China right now is involved in wiping out not only the native Tibetans but also native Uyghurs, who are genetically 52% Caucasian, from China and replacing them with Han Chinese. They don’t want Tibet and Xinjiang to break off from China.

    White people have made the mistake several times before of dealing with East Asians. The Roman Empire nearly went bankrupt from importing goods from China, same with the British Empire and now the US is deep in debt to China. Middle Eastern and white business elites have traded our jobs, safety, economy, education etc. in order to get access to the Chinese market. East Asians always make sure these deals are severely lopsided to benefit them. Trade between East Asia and the rest of the world is no where near equal. White people should have excluded them from the world market a long time ago because it’s impossible to make a fair deal with them.

  • highduke

    Falun Gong & Tibetan/Uighur independence are Chinese manifestations of Liberalism & Multiculturalism. Beijing knows that these movements are controled by the same elities pushing this garbage onto the West and that Chinese students are targeted for propaganda. China isn’t an ally of WN, they want a chunk of your economy (like the Saudis already have) but China is a positive example in many ways.

  • Anonymous

    For years there have been warnings from leading academics, politicians and security/intelligence authorities that Confucian Institutes are fronts run by the Chinese government for extending ‘soft power’ influence.

    “The Chinese Communist Party sees promotion of Chinese language and culture as a way of creating a favourable public opinion climate, particularly among overseas Chinese. This programme is modelled on the century-old Alliance Francaise system but differs in that it is more closely managed by the Chinese government.” – Jocelyn Chey, former Australian Consul-General.

    “an image management project, the purpose of which is to promote the greatness of Chinese culture while at the same time counterattacking public opinion that maintains the presence of a ‘China threat’ in the international community.” – the Institute of Security Development Policy of Stockholm.

    Confucian Institutes are meant to spread Chinese government propaganda worldwide, and to keep Chinese nationals living abroad within the web of influence of mainland China.

    As of July 2010, there were 316 Confucius Institutes and 337 Confucius Classrooms in 94 countries and regions. The Office of the Chinese Language Council International plans to set up 500 Confucius Institutes worldwide by 2010, and as many as 1000 by 2020.

  • Anonymous

    “Tibet was the most horrible slave-society you can imagine before the Chinese invaded. It was brutal and unjust like you could not believe. And people like the Dalai Lama were the top oppressors.”

    The Chinese all say that. I think it was probably true. apparently the monasteries got all the money but unlike the medieval catholic monasteries gave no services back to the community.

    I have been told that the upper class Tibetans had the power to execute their slaves absolutely with no interference from whatever passed for a criminal justice system.