Chinese ambassador to UK dismisses "groundless" accusation of academic freedom interference
Published: Nov 27, 2019 11:18 AM

Chinese Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming speaks during an interview with Chinese press in London, Britain, on Jan. 23, 2018. British Prime Minister Theresa May's upcoming official visit to China, the first since she took office in 2016, is expected to chart a new course and push forward the "Golden Era" for bilateral ties, said Liu Xiaoming. (Xinhua/Han Yan)

Chinese ambassador to Britain on Tuesday slammed the British parliament for its "groundless" accusation against his country of interfering with academic freedom in British universities.

Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, in a signed article on the Financial Times, said the recent House of Commons foreign affairs select committee report, which accused China of "interfering" with academic freedom in British universities, is "groundless and highly misleading."

"On the contrary, educational exchanges enhance understanding between the peoples of the two countries," he said.

There are now more than 100,000 Chinese students in the UK, and several thousand British students studying in China. In the UK, more than 600 schools are offering Chinese language courses and more than 190,000 people are studying Chinese in 30 Confucius Institutes and 161 Confucius classrooms, according to the ambassador.

"China is committed to the principle of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs and respects academic freedom," Liu said. "I believe it has never, and will never, exert any political influence on normal academic activities in British universities."

Stoking ideological prejudice for narrow political gain, or under pressure from other countries, will damp the enthusiasm of students and researchers from both countries, according to the ambassador.

"It will also further undermine academic co-operation between China and the UK," he said.

Liu said anyone with a long-term vision for Sino-British relations should support and promote academic exchange and cooperation.

Britain's policy paper on "International Education Strategy", published in March this year, describes Britain as a world leader in higher education, boasting that its institutions are among "the most renowned and prestigious in the world."

"For claims like this to be credible, the UK should display leadership in continuing to promote cooperation," Liu said. "China stands ready to work with the UK to advance the cause not only of educational exchange, but also of promoting mutual learning between east and west."
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