Jesus College plots overhaul of its China Centre

Jesus College plots overhaul of its China Centre
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During the past two years Jesus College has been a regular in the newspaper headlines. The Cambridge University college was last month found to have accepted cash from a 'very high risk' Chinese university for research into China’s prime tool of foreign influence. It came after a string of stories which contrasted the willingness of Jesus to accept donations from controversial Chinese sources with its efforts to remove a historic memorial linked to the slave trade from its chapel.

Now though, it seems that the college has been moved to act. According to an email seen by The Spectator, 'following a detailed review by a panel of Fellows, the college has today announced the restructure of the China Centre, including changing its name and funding model'. Sonita Alleyne, the Master of Jesus, told members of her college today that 'misrepresentations about the China Centre have obscured the value of its excellent seminar programme'.

She added that the restructure aims to 'clarify the purpose, activities, and funding of the newly-named China Forum, increase its transparency and enhance its governance, and enable it to continue its successful seminar series for the benefit of Cambridge and the wider world.'

Will that be the end of Jesus College's troubles with China? Not according to former Conservative party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC). He told Mr S that IPAC recently met with Russell Group vice chancellors, all of whom 'recognised the dependency problem':

When, however, we spoke to the Master of Jesus College, she was adamant there was nothing wrong, rejecting any suggestion that there might be a problem with taking money from the Chinese State. Today’s arrogant statement shows Jesus College is still drinking the Kool Aid, refusing to face up to the issue, in spite of having to change the name and structure of their China centre. All universities must wake up to the threat of dependency on this brutal authoritarian state, which is undermining academic freedom and the independence of our great institutions of learning.


Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike