Cambridge University’s cosy relationship with China
Today's revelations are only the latest in a long line of links with the CCP
Today’s edition of the Telegraph reveals that researchers at the University of Cambridge have worked on projects with the nuclear-weapons laboratory at the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP). This latest revelation is not surprising. For nearly a year, I’ve been investigating links between the University of Cambridge and the Chinese government. In that time, I’ve found my university’s dealings with Beijing often defy belief.
Only last month, a new Civitas report showed that Cambridge researchers have co-operated on gyroscope research with China’s National University of Defence Technology (NUDT). The gyroscope laboratory at NUDT is a listed military facility, and is currently under Japanese sanctions because of its crucial role in China’s missile development programme.
Like what you’re reading? Get the free UnHerd daily email
Already registered? Sign in
China’s Ministry of Education has commented that the collaboration between Cambridge and NUDT will “greatly raise the nation’s power in the fields of national defence, communications and anti-jamming for imaging and high-precision navigation.”
For their part, Cambridge officials have maintained a careful silence.
These latest developments are part of a longer term trend. In May 2020 I revealed that on two separate occasions Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope (a scholar of human-rights law) had advanced a disconcertingly uncritical view of the Chinese regime.
First, in a February 2019 Jesus College white paper funded by Huawei, Toope appeared to endorse China’s plans for a “new governance system” worldwide; then, in a March 2019 speech at Peking University, Toope (who did not respond to my request for comment) extolled the faculty as “a formidable institution, which seeks an open world”. Though seemingly just a platitude, this is a worrying characterisation: in the months before Toope’s speech, secret police abducted the Peking students Yue Xin, Zhang Shangye, and Qiu Zhanxuan for protesting about labour rights. Yet to emerge from custody, they are widely assumed dead. After Peking’s Marxist club protested the abductions, the faculty quickly shut it down. These outrages were all reported in mainstream western media.
My colleague Sam Rubinstein and I recently revealed that several prestigious Cambridge institutions have uncomfortably close links to the Chinese government. Jesus College, Trinity College, the criminology department, the Careers Service, the development office, Cambridge University Press — each has, with varying degrees of discretion, played their part in the Cambridge-China connection.
In 2017, for example, the Cambridge University Press complied with a CCP request to delete 300 ‘politically sensitive’ articles from its Chinese website. Items deemed too scandalous for Chinese readers included any referring to the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Cultural Revolution or ongoing enormities in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Only after international outcry did the CUP reinstate the articles.
Of course, Cambridge academics are perfectly capable of sanitising Chinese history through their own initiative. Until the coronavirus outbreak, the website for Jesus College’s China Centre insisted that:
When the first lockdown began, this blurb was removed.
Today’s news is yet more evidence of an uncomfortably cosy relationship between my university and the CCP.
Current links with the CCP – good. Bygone links with the historical slave trade – bad.
That’s our world-beating academic sector today.
“ Cambridge have worked on projects with the nuclear-weapons laboratory at the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP). ”
Ok I’m no expert on this, but why is the British Government allowing this? Surely this requires official approval?
If not, why not?
Look at the ‘Confucius Institutes’ and ‘thousand talents’ programmes and it soon becomes clear too many Universities and Academics are in the CCP’s pocket. ARIA, potentially the UK’s version of DARPA will need to be very cautious with it’s projects and who it allows to work on them.
Thank you. Very good reporting. Of course, Cambridge has a long and not so distinguished record of sympathising with tyrannical states and regimes, so this will come as no surprise to anybody. And, of course, all these universities are interested in only one thing, namely, money. Thus they will collaborate with anyone who is prepared to give it to them. It’s all completely evil but there is very little one can do.
Cambridge is not about money, it is about ideology. Remember the Cambridge Five? Monstrous traitors to Soviet Russia? Philby, Maclean, Burgess, Blunt and X.
This is Cambridge, 1930s students recruited there and remained traitors for decades!
If Cambridge was not acting like this I would be supprised. Academia are NOT the friends of the west. But this is the tip of the iceberg, the entire academia is involved in giving all advantages and research and secrets to the Chinese.
Cambridge has been a fountain- head of English treason since at least the 1920’’s.
It most notorious act was to nurture and succour a coven of well bred sodomites known as the ‘Apostles’, which in turn spawned some of our vilest traitors.
Naturally none paid the ultimate price on the gallows, but were instead either ‘hidden’ within the Establishment or allowed to flee to their beloved USSR.
I think you missed the words upper class
Yes, well spotted, although I would have thought the phrase ‘well bred’ might have covered that?
Off course these days, to be so frightfully modern, we would say “potty trained”.
The Mark was rubbed out; the Lake ran dry; but Stanhope springs eternal.
Not for much longer, this new system has no ‘sport to offer’, except off course, for your apposite, amusing and enigmatic barbs. I had feared you may have withdrawn from the fray, as have so many others of note.
As possibly only you Basil, and Richard Audley will know, I think the comment below (by ‘you know who’) best sums up what has sadly happened to UnHerd:
‘You have built what you or others might have built anywhere, but you have destroyed something that was unique in the world’.
My recent absence was caused more by the banal demands of work than by irritation at the new format, though it is indeed very irritating. In any case, I thank you for the compliment. It’s been a pleasure to swap quotations and travel anecdotes with you! There is, indeed, less to detain one here than there once was. As you probably gather, I don’t really feel I fit in here ideologically in most respects, though there was a time when this seemed like a more eclectic and nuanced debating forum than it does now.
“Habéis tomado algo único y lo habéis convertido en algo mundano”: It’s a long time since I was in Cordoba! When – if – this madness is over, I am torn between racing off somewhere really exotic, on the one hand, and on the other, simply wandering around Andalusia for a few weeks to re-acquaint myself with its major glories and to encounter some of its less celebrated ones for the first time.
I always think Charles was being slightly disingenuous with that remark, when you considered how he desecrated the Alhambra with the incongruous Palacio de Carlos V! Have you incidentally read Geoffrey Parker’s recent, excellent biography of Charles?
If you haven’t been, you must also go Yuste where Charles spent his all too short retirement. I seem to recall him describing it as “here is permanent Spring” or something like that.
Given the choice of Exotica or Spain, I would always take Spain. I have been going since the sixties and still have only seen a fraction, and off course to miss Easter there this year is a disaster! I suffer from a minor affliction best described as “Me gustan los toros porque es la conexion iultima con la tradition Gladiatores de Roma Antigua” (the gremlin inside my I-pad nearly refused to type that! & apologies for no accents).
So back to trudging across Arcadia whilst this madness continues, and let’s hope UnHerd returns to “normal service”, and we may continue our discussions.
Have a look at China’s closest ally in this field, Imperial College, home inter alia of Prof Fergusson, believer in the total lock down. IC is doing well on Chinese money.
I didn’t know that, but of course it’s hardly surprising. Nor is it surprising that Ferguson would do their work for them by shutting down our economies and removing our freedoms. I think the West is done.
No doubt Cambridge also gets money from American institutions. As our weak government are not likely to act please send this article to relevant USA funding institutions. That may shift their focus away from their historical love of tyrannical communist regimes.
Oh, don’t worry. Plenty of institutions here share the same love for the CCP as the likes of Cambridge. Wanna be dictators love to rub shoulders with the real thing.
In the interest of balanced reporting, the article should mention Wolfson College stripping Carrie Lam of her honorary degree.
Good point. All is not lost!
I would say that she was given one was more telling.
And yet in fits in perfectly with Cambridge’s apparent fondness for cancelling speakers and promoting the Critical Theory – driven assault upon this nation’s history and institutions.
And, come to think of it, It also fits in rather snugly with the University’s recent historical legacy of it having been a breeding ground for homegrown spies and traitors, all from eminently privileged backgrounds, and of a communist persuasion, who were quite willing to sell our secrets to the Soviets. Plus ça change.
The reason Cambridge has links with Mainland China is because of the second World War. Joseph Needham – who was working in Beijing as a Christian Socialist was asked by the Factional government to bring the Chinese Scientific and Cultural History to the UK. This was in 1938. The Chinese were afraid that the Japanese would capture and destroy them. Joseph Needham translated and annotated these books in Sawston during the second world war. After the war the originals were returned to China and Needham was honoured by Mao’s growing government. The Needham Institute in Herschel Rd is testament to this. The mainland government invested in the institute. During the Greek Financial Crisis (2008/9??) When the French banks came under financial stress the Mainland Chinese Government made their first overseas investment to assist France (it was France that assisted the early revolutionaries on their live work programme) of course the meeting point was Cambridge. Don’t knock this connection. My mother was born in China. My grandfather sold oil into the early revolution. Shell gained Asian access as a result of this pioneering. My father’s family ran the Oxbridge college lands. My husband (now deceased) was Chinese – an architect. Long may the association continue so that we can all continue to learn – one from the other. Maralyn Carter Lai (nee Maralyn Carter Jonas)
Thank you for mentioning Needham, one of the most revolting ‘ home grown’ traitors we ever had.
One can almost forgive the wretched Hobsbawm and his ilk as they were never really ‘us’.
But Needham, Blunt, Philby & Co, never!
I need to add that unless you understand opposing views and cultures you cannot mitigate against them to defend your own. The Cambridge I grew up in did not cancel any speakers and we were taught to debate – and win – against opposition. If Cambridge had not encouraged understanding of opposing systems of thought and culture there would have been no way of defeating insurgency in Malaysia or granting independence to India. One has to keep LEARNING. It is what the University is about. Just keep your eyes and ears open. Embrace opposing views- otherwise one is living in a closing and narrowing world – and there’s a big one out there. Maralyn Lai
A robust defence, thank you. You were fortunate to find Cambridge so accommodating, and fulfilling the role for which it was partially founded.
How incidentally did it contribute to the victory during the Malayan Insurgency. I don’t recall Gerald Templer and Walter Walker were Cambridge men?
And what of Indian Independence what had Cambridge to do with that debacle?
Understanding other cultures is not as easy as you make it sound, I wish it were! How much of English culture do you really understand? A few years on the banks of the Cam won’t teach you much. Conversely a few adventures to China haven’t taught me much, but enough to realise that China thinks it is ‘its turn’, just like Japan did so disastrously before them.
Perhaps this will end amicably, but you must admit the runes are not good.
Gosh! I almost forgot to ask what do you make of this new adornment to Cambridge, Professor Gobal, Professor of Postcolonial Studies whatever ‘chippy’ nonsense that is. I gather she is an attention seeker who has made a name for herself by ‘tweeting’ (whatever that is) such incendiary tosh as “White lives don’t matter”.
She should be deported immediately to the sub continent, where she belongs, or do you disagree? Cambridge is sullied by her festering presence.
Cambridge continues its ignominious links to communism, first Russia, now China, I hope the intelligence services vet Cambridge scholars more thoroughly nowadays than they have in the past
You appall me in your lack of knowledge. Cambridge is – and was – about LEARNING. My God mother’s father Sir Gilbert Wiles was the head of the Colonial office in Bombay – now Mumbai. Was he a traitor too? His connection with India resulted in India supplying cotton and Uniforms to the UK during the 2nd WW. You guys have no knowledge. Start finding things out. Just do it. My husband was recognised and respected by the RIBA for his contribution to British Architecture – hospitals and schools.
Please let me know what you have contributed to this country. I would be glad to know.
Start learning folks and forget your prejudices…..Maralyn Lai
At least Wolfson College had the decency to consider stripping her of her Honorary Fellowship before she renounced it!!
Join the discussion
To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.
Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.Subscribe