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.
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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.