‘Blatant Corruption’: Jesus College at Cambridge Took £155,000 from Huawei to Fund Research

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A freedom of information request has revealed that Jesus College at Cambridge University received £155,000 from controversial Chinese tech firm Huawei to fund research over two years.

Last October, representatives of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) linked Huawei met at the college alongside business leaders, academics, and political figures to discuss the need for “transnational governance” in developing standards for communications and technology, and that governments need to “consider differences in the normative standards accepted by different countries”.

The symposium was followed by a college white paper which, as the UK’s Times newspaper notes in a report on their Freedom of Information request, “treated Huawei favourably“. The company had donated £155,000 for a “two-year research collaboration”, and Jesus College had accepted £200,000 in September of 2018 from an agency within China’s State Council, the Communist Party’s top governing body, to help fund the establishment of the UK-China Global Issues Dialogue Centre at the college.

Huwaei was disclosed initially to be a backer of the project, but the amount of money spent by the Chinese firm was not revealed until this week, with a Freedom of Information request made by The Times.

The original version of The Times article — since amended after a complaint by Jesus College — also claimed the college had received an additional £55,000 in Chinese state-backed money in order to establish a training course for bosses of Chinese state-owned companies at its China Centre. In fact, that money — and over £1 million of donations from other China-facing businesses over two years — was actually received by the Cambridge China Development Trust, not the college, a spokesman told Breitbart London.

Further, the Jesus College spokesman wished it to be known that apart from the fact the Trust is physically located inside the college, pays the college to use office space on its premises, and funds Jesus College’s China Centre which is run by a Jesus College professor, there is no relationship between the Cambridge China Development Trust and Jesus College. When asked whether the funding-distributing Development Trust body had a relationship with the Chinese government, a spokesman for the college told Breitbart London that they did not know.

The director of the China Centre, Professor Peter Nolan, became Cambridge University’s first “Chong Hua” professor after the position was reportedly established with the help of a £3.7 million donation from the daughter of the former Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao.

In response to the revelations, Conservative MP and foreign affairs committee member Bob Seely said: “You’ve got to wonder if this money is influencing their intellectual rigour.”

Tory MP Neil O’Brien described it as “blatant corruption”, warning that “there will be more of this out there.”

Former Labour Party Transport Secretary Lord Andrew Adonis added: “Jesus College, Cambridge should not have accepted this Chinese state funding in return for this obvious endorsement.”

Jesus College denied any wrongdoing, saying the college “always upholds the principle of academic freedom when entering a partnership agreement. It was made very clear [in February] that the report was funded by Huawei, and we would like to reiterate that the company was in no way able to shape or veto the publication’s views, research findings or conclusions.”

“We are proud of our partnerships with world-leading universities and researchers here in the UK,” a Huawei spokesperson said.

In June, the Trump administration warned the British government that they were on a “slippery slope” by reportedly allowing Huawei to construct a £400 million research and development centre outside of Cambridge.

Keith Krach, the U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Economic Growth, declared that Huawei is “an extension of the Chinese government,” warning that “they are after the people and technology. They want to co-opt the researchers and talent from one of the most prestigious universities.”

Editor’s note: This article was amended on 18/07/20 to clarify how and to whom Chinese money was moved to Cambridge, and to clarify the complex relationships among various Chinese entities, Jesus College of Cambridge University, and the Cambridge China Development Trust.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka


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