by Georgia Gilholy
Monday, 7
June 2021
Campus Wars
16:26

Why Jesus College doesn’t want to talk about Uyghurs

An academic has put the spotlight on Cambridge's China connections
by Georgia Gilholy
Peter Nolan, a fellow of Jesus College, with Xiao Yaqing, chairman of SASAC (The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council)

On Saturday The Times revealed comments by Professor Peter Nolan CBE, Director of Jesus College Cambridge’s China Centre, in which he deemed the topic of Uyghur Muslims as unsuitable for debate on campus as “all countries” with ethnic minorities face similar issues.

Since 2017, it is estimated that around one million Uyghur Muslims have been forced into “counter-extremism centres” by the Chinese regime, where they are subjected to “re-education”, slave labour, forced sterilisation, and systemic rape. These are not the problems faced by ethnic minorities in “all countries”. What is happening to Uyghur Muslims is a crime against humanity.

Professor Nolan made the comments in a meeting last November of the advisory committee of the Jesus College China Centre, in which academics and staff discussed a forthcoming series of events. Nolan, the director of the China Centre, said that debating the plight of the Uyghur Muslims, would not help “mutual understanding”.  Any balanced debate on the Uyghurs would lead to a “very, very contentious outcome”, Nolan claimed, which would be “unhelpful”.

Comments like these look especially bad when you dig into Jesus College’s funding. Last August it was reported that Jesus College accepted £155,000 from the Chinese tech giant Huawei as well as £200,000 from an agency associated with the Chinese government. In 2012 the University of Cambridge itself accepted a donation of £3.7 million from the charitable foundation Chong Hua, which is run by members of the family of the country’s former prime minister, Wen Jiabao. The newly created Chong Hua Chair at the university’s Centre of Development Studies was filled by none other than: Professor Peter Nolan.

This is the proper context of the comments reported by the Times over the weekend.

It’s not just the CCP that attempts to “buy” influence in the heart of British higher education. Leading universities have taken hefty endowments from regimes and businesses accused of links to terrorism and human rights violations. Still, it’s jarring to read Jesus College’s April 2020 blurb for the China Centre’s website, which looks more like a corporate press release than a statement from a rigorous academic institution:

Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China …[China] has experienced an extraordinary transformation… China’s national rejuvenation is returning the country to the position within the global political economy that it occupied before the 19th century
- China Centre, Jesus College

This is an ode to a party-government responsible for all manner of impediments on liberty — impediments that Professor Nolan would likely not enjoy living under. This gloss has since been removed from the China Centre’s website. This is less a signal that the College intends to distance itself from the CCP, and more a sign that it does not enjoy press attention regarding its connections with the party.

The attention of the press, and the public at large — and the embarrassment Jesus College can still clearly feel —  is the only antidote to episodes like this one.

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Andrew D
Andrew D
1 year ago

Jesus College doesn’t want to talk about the Uyghurs, but is happy to contemplate removing Grinling Gibbons’ splendid memorial to the college benefactor Tobias Rustat from its Grade I listed chapel. Rustat derived less than 2% of his wealth from the Royal African Company. How much of the college’s current wealth derives from its dealings with China and its murderous regime? Quite apart from their philistinism, their hypocrisy and immorality beggar belief.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew D
Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew D

And that my friend is the world we all now live in.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago

Thats the hypocricy like Rhodes must Fall movement. Though commercial decisions involving realpolitik are often criticized by academics , they are just hypocritics in reality , as they do the same as in this example.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

The universities really are among the most shameless, grasping, frauds in the country. But we have known that for many years.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

Back in the good old days of the 1950’s and 60s it was all Russian Communist moles produced by the top universities, good to see they are keeping up with the times.

David Slade
David Slade
1 year ago

Although it would probably be labelled as a witch hunt, surely it’s time to consider getting all these institutions properly vetted and the influence of Chinese funds either removed or – if not – publicly acknowledged in all the institutions engagements with press and public – so they can be sufficiently scrutinised and their activities put in context.

It’s not as if such measures are unjustified – China is a state under the yoke of an oppressive regime with aspirations of global domination. It has possibly lied about the origins of a pandemic and manipulated the world in to a self sabotaging and dystopian new normal. I certainly think everyone on SAGE should be looked in to for possible connections and dismissed accordingly.

Last edited 1 year ago by David Slade
Rhys D
Rhys D
1 year ago

Never seen a demonstration at University or in any British cities about the very real genocide occurring in Xingxang. Lots of Palestine flags, though.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Rhys D

It is part of a long tradition. They were not much minded to demonstrate against the Soviet invasions of Hungary or Czechoslovakia either

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago

Just close them all down, seems to me all this university malarkey causes more problems than it solves. Makes me wonder however the world survived before anyone got a PHD in pathetic Noddy’s gender studies et al. 50K just for a picture of you throwing a black hat in the air and ending up managing a McDonalds take away. Some people eh?

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
1 year ago

Although this is small fry compared to the monstrous hypocrisy of anti-Western states in the Middle East who are turning a blind eye to this.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Jesus College, or to give it its full name”The College of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and the glorious Virgin Saint Radegund, near Cambridge”, got off to a bad start.

Original a Benedictine Nunnery, it was described by a contemporary * as “a community of spiritual harlots”.

The Nuns were ejected in 1496 but as they say: “the spirit of the dead will survive in the memory of the living”.
Jesus actions are proof enough that this spirit lives on.

(* John Bale.)

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Robert Pay
Robert Pay
1 year ago

Explains why I had a sleepless night there!

Bob Bepob
Bob Bepob
1 year ago

Useful idiots.

Marco S
Marco S
1 year ago

I attended a doctorate presentation day at my local university. Many of the presentations were incomprehensible especially those relating to LGBTQ issues. I hid during the breaks in case anyone asked me questions!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Is there hard evidence to support your more extreme assertions? What is the UK doing with the equivalent threat at home? ISIS returnees? No re-education centres for those? Hmmm …can’t see that ending well!
When a person proves that s/he is a danger to the status quo they are imprisoned in the UK and re-education is tried with varying degrees of success..
If China is doing likewise but on a grand scale there may be some justification for it provided of course that your extreme assertions are not part of those measures. If they are then of course I condemn it outright and without equivocation! So, let’s have the evidence.
We have plenty of evidence of Zionist massacres of women and children in their homes and many violations of their human rights: what is the British response? Send in ever more sophisticated arms so that the genocide can be speeded up. Why not focus on what we know with certainty to be true and why not remove the beam from your own eye?

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
1 year ago

Mark Steyn was right. It’s China’s world now, and we just live in it.

David Foot
David Foot
1 year ago

Don’t tell me that the Pro Decolonisers of the British Empire and who even want to decolonize themselves don’t have time to talk about decolonising and protesting about the excesses of the worst of all the Empires mankind has ever seen in all the history of man! The Empire with a genocide of 70 million under its belt! The Chinese Empire has the genocide gold medal and the decolonizers wont talk about it! The cultural revolution! The great leap forward! Just for a few pieces of silver Cambridge refuses to jump at decolonizing the worst Empire ever!
On the other hand, the British Empire which you never cease to attack is sadly gone. The British Empire was the best ideology on the planet, creating paradises people are prepared to die alongside their children to get in! No ideology, Empire, cult, anything you like can hold a candle to the British Empire, nothing has given us such fantastic places! Yet for a few pieces of silver you are pro Chinese Empire! What rubbish you are really!
Now the traitor manufacturing plants of Oxford and Cambridge paid by the Chinese (the worst Empire ever) produce all the wokery and attack the best Empire ever which no other ideology can hold a candle to! And stay mom about China the “genocidal organ harvesting Empire” .. what a few pieces of silver can do.. it is remarkable.
Tell me oh great Oxbridge decolonisers do the people in the little boats try to get in to China? Why do you think they don’t go there and they want to come here then, the capital of the “terrible” British Empire? Many once were in a successful colony, then came Marxist decolonisers and turned it in to a refugee producing plant which can’t feed itself, how foolish!