Steerpike Steerpike

British universities took £24 million from China

China is back on the agenda in Westminster. Whether it’s Boris’s trip to India or a Beijing-based take-over of Newport Wafer Fab, it’s hard to escape the flutter of the five-starred red flag. And there’s few signs of that abating any time soon, with leading US Senator Marco Rubio launching an attack this month on American universities that entered into financial arrangements with China-based entities, including those directly governed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). According to Rubio, such educational investment is ‘all part of Beijing’s plan to overtake the United States as the world’s most powerful nation.’

Naturally, Steerpike wanted to find out just how much the CCP has invested at centres of higher learning here in the UK. One of the ways China has sought to extend its overseas cultural influence is by Confucius Institutes. These centres run educational and cultural promotion programs at UK universities funded and arranged by Hanban – a government entity affiliated to the Chinese Ministry of Education. In July 2020 Hanban rebranded as the Centre for Language Education and Cooperation after accusations of overseas propaganda and undue influence. Senior CCP official Li Changchun once remarked that Confucius Institutes are ‘an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.’

Senior CCP official Li Changchun once remarked that Confucius Institutes are ‘an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.’

Now a series of Freedom of Information requests by Mr S show that more than £24 million was accepted in funding by 17 UK universities for Confucius Institutes from Hanban and the Chinese Ministry of Education between 2006 and 2021. Edinburgh University came top with £6 million in funds, followed by Strathclyde University with £5.6 million, which included £1.2 million for a building renovation alongside £4.4 million in operations and teacher recruitment funds. Lancaster was highest in England with £1.5

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