Red Guards in Britain: China Ambassador Calls on Chinese Students in UK to ‘Serve the Motherland’

Red Guard Propaganda Art
Wikipedia Commons

Harkening back to the rhetoric of Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution, China’s ambassador in London has called on Chinese university students studying in the United Kingdom to “serve your motherland”, amid growing concern about the influence of Beijing on Western campuses.

In recently unearthed comments made to the Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Students Abroad, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming said: “I hope you will carry on the glorious tradition of patriotism. I hope you will always live your personal dreams in the greater cause of striving for the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.”

“I hope with what you have learned here and now, you could serve your motherland and people in the future. And I hope your youthful vigour will drive you on as you work harder to realize your dream,” Liu added.

In response to the comments, Professor Christopher Hughes of the London School of Economics told The Times: “The idea of patriotism, in the Chinese context, means supporting the Communist Party. It means wanting unification with Taiwan. It means completely crushing Tibetan aspirations for autonomy. It means crushing Hong Kong. It challenges a lot of our principles of academic freedom.”

“The more Chinese students there are, the more they are controlled and used by the Chinese embassy. There are various groups that are set up to monitor their behaviour. So they don’t feel secure. That means you get creeping self-censorship.”

Currently, there are an estimated 120,000 Chinese students in the United Kingdom. In November, the Foreign Affairs Committee found that students from China are actively engaged in a propaganda effort on campuses to push a pro-CCP narrative and to stifle free speech on sensitive issues for the party such as Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The efforts made by some Chinese students are often organised by university branches of the Confucius Institute, which claims to be merely a vehicle to spread Chinese language and culture, but is in fact a subsidiary of the Chinese Ministry of Education which is under the supervision of the Communist Party’s central propaganda department. There are at present 29 Confucius Institutes throughout Britain, second only to the United States.

Chinese Confucius Institute officials have been accused in Britain of confiscating papers that mention Taiwan as well as shutting down campus events which focused on Taiwan or Tibet.

The statements from the Chinese ambassador likely came in response to a growing row with the United States, after President Donal Trump announced in May that his administration would be placing restrictions on visas for Chinese graduate students amidst concern over intellectual espionage.

“For years, the government of China has conducted elicit espionage to steal our industrial secrets, of which there are many,” President Trump said in making the announcement.

“Today I will issue a proclamation to better secure our nation’s vital university research and to suspend the entry of certain foreign nationals from China who we have identified as potential security risks,” the president added.

In June, the Justice Department announced that one of the leading chemists in America, the former chair of the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department at Harvard University, Dr Charles Lieber, had been indicted on two counts of making false statements about his relationship with China’s Thousand Talents Program (TTP). The programme is believed by officials to be a key plank of the CCP’s efforts to steal intellectual property from the West.

Tensions have also been rising between the United Kingdom and the communist regime in Beijing, who warned that Britain will “bear all the consequences” of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to open a path to citizenship for up to 3 million Hong Kongers, following the introduction of a draconian national security law on the city that will serve to stamp out the freedom and autonomy promised to Hong Kong in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

“China strongly condemns this and reserves the right to take further measures. The British side will bear all the consequences,” said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday.

Ambassador Liu added in a statement: “We firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures. We urge the British side to view objectively and fairly the national security legislation for Hong Kong, respect China’s position and concerns, refrain from interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any way.”

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka


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