VU Amsterdam will refund Chinese subsidies
VU Amsterdam will refund this year's Chinese subsidy to the Cross Cultural Human Rights Centre (CCHRC) in reaction to an article by Dutch broadcaster NOS. 'Even the appearance of a violation of our academic independence is unacceptable', the university says in a statement.
The Cross Cultural Human Rights Centre examines human rights in the context of the local culture of the country concerned. Yesterday the NOS revealed that the centre receives tons of subsidy from China every year, which is 80 percent of the total budget. The director of the centre, professor Tom Zwart, speaks critically of Western politicians when he appears in Chinese media, but less so of Chinese politicians when it comes to issues of human rights.
One of the centre's employees, VU assistant professor Peter Peverelli, even denies that China is oppressing the Uyghurs in statements on LinkedIn and other platforms. He did the same in an interview with Ad Valvas last year. The website of the CCHRC contains contributions that Zwart now has reservations about.
Although academic independence is guaranteed in the contracts with Chinese sponsors, experts from other institutes, including the Leiden sinologist Frank Pieke, believe that VU Amsterdam should not accept money from China.
It is not the first time that there has been an uproar about Chinese subsidies at VU Amsterdam. VU Amsterdam also cooperates with the company Huawei, which, among other things, develops software to detect and prosecute Uyghurs. Several other universities have run into difficulties because of their cooperation with China. For example, it turned out that the contract of a professor in Groningen stated that he was not allowed to harm China's reputation to the world.
IMAGE: Annie Spratt via Unsplash