China is trying to control its international students studying at Scottish universities through Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSA), claimed a former Chinese diplomat as he turned whistleblower after defecting to Australia, The Ferret reported.
Chinese students controlled by China in Scottish universities
Chen Yonglin, the first secretary at the Chinese Consulate in Sydney defected to Australia in 2005. He became a whistleblower about the persecution of Falun Gong in China, a religious campaign that included meditation and exercises with moral philosophy. Moreover, he disclosed its consulate in Sydney had an anti-Falun Gong working group. The group was keen to monitor and counter Falun Gong supporters and practitioners across Australia.
While speaking to The Ferret in an interview, Chen claimed that Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSA) based in Scotland try to control international students for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) which governs China.
However, the Chinese Embassy in London responded it would “never exert any political influence on normal academic activities in British universities.” It remarked Falun Gong as an “anti-humanity cult”.
According to an embassy spokesperson, “Such cooperation is mutually beneficial, open, transparent, and beyond reproach. China is committed to the principle of non-interference in other countries‘ internal affairs and respects academic freedom.”
Whereas, the comments from three Scottish universities also said they had important ties with China. And that student’s freedom of thought and expression were in safe hands.
Chen’s claims emerged after a report issued this month demanding the United Kingdom to concentrate more on monitoring academic links with China. Last month think-tank Civitas warned of closer relations between UK research universities and institutions associated with the Chinese military.
Chen has also addressed the United States Congress including courts in Canada and Australia. He disclosed consulates in China monitor Chinese in foreign countries who belong to the five poisons. Falun Gong, Uighurs, Tibetans, Taiwan independence, and democracy advocates.
Lately, the Chinese government has been facing accusations of the forced organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience.
Every university has a CSSA
According to Chen, “Every university has a CSSA. They were installed by the Chinese consulates and embassies. And they want to control students. They want to give them some favor, some small favor and ask them to register. And the student associations act knowing they have consulate protection.”
He added that many students are studying in the UK; therefore, China spends heft amounts of money to continue controlling the latter.