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China seen retaliating against US university for having invited the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the Dalai Lama delivering the Keynote Address at the UCSD Commencement ceremony in San Diego, CA, on June 17, 2017. (Photo courtesy: UCSD)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama delivering the Keynote Address at the UCSD Commencement ceremony in San Diego, CA, on June 17, 2017. (Photo courtesy: UCSD)

(TibetanReview.net, Sep21, 2017) – The Chinese government has barred Chinese scholars from receiving state funding to study at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), which had in June this year invited Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to its commencement ceremony for the 2016-2017 academic year, reported qz.com Sep 19, citing people at the school.

The report said that on Sep 16, UCSD professor Victor Shih tweeted that a colleague of his had received notice that the China Scholarship Council, a branch of the Chinese government that funds overseas study for Chinese citizens, would no longer process applications to study at UCSD for scholars who had not already received a visa appointment from the US embassy.

The report noted that the China Scholarship Council was a branch of China’s Ministry of Education. It typically provides scholarships for graduate students and professors at Chinese universities to travel to an overseas university as a visiting scholar. China Scholarship Council has not responded to queries about its move.

However, the UCSD has issued the following statement: “UC San Diego has learned, unofficially, that the China Scholarship Council under the PRC Ministry of Education has apparently issued instructions that CSC-funded visiting scholars who do not yet have visas will not be allowed to study at UC San Diego. UC San Diego was not notified of this directly by the China Scholarship Council, and we are presently making inquiries to determine if this is the case.”

The report noted that the application freeze did not bar undergraduates, graduate students, or other academics from attending UCSD—it merely prevented scholars from obtaining CSC funding to do so.

Chinese students were reported to make up 10.6% of UCSD’s student population and 55.7% of its international student population in the fall of 2015.

In the months preceding the commencement ceremony, members of UCSD’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), a global network of Chinese students at overseas schools funded by Beijing through local Chinese consulates, had met with the university’s chancellor to request that the Dalai Lama be disinvited or otherwise refrained from discussing politics at his commencement speech. They also said the local Chinese consulate would be informed of the university plan.

The report noted that over the past year, various academic institutions had faced pressure to self-censor to appease either Chinese authorities or Chinese students themselves. And in Aug 2017, Cambridge University Press announced that it had removed over 300 articles from the China-facing website for the China Quarterly, one of the leading academic publications for sinology, due to demands from Beijing. It later reinstated the articles due to uproar from the academic community.

Meanwhile, in Australia, several professors recently found themselves shamed online and forced to apologize for making statements, some of them about international politics, that offended their Chinese students who held their communist party-government’s views on issues such as Tibet, Taiwan, and human rights and took offence at any open discussion of them.

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