Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are required to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retaliation under the sweeping new security law that was introduced three months ago in Hong Kong.
The rule of anonymity should be applied in the classroom, and group lessons should be replaced with individual lessons. Students should also be warned that it will be considered a disciplinary offense if they record classes or share classes with outside groups.
The Hong Kong Security Act was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy protests, and it has had a devastating effect on political freedoms in the region. Its provisions also grant the Chinese government powers to arrest individuals who are not residents of Hong Kong for acts or comments outside the territory.
The alleged extraterritorial powers in the law have led to concerns for those studying in the United Kingdom, particularly those with personal and family connections to Hong Kong and the mainland. China.
British universities, a group of vice-chancellors, will hold talks with Chinese scholars to discuss a national security law early next month. A group of academics is also expected to present a draft code of conduct this week for how universities engage with students from authoritarian countries.
The number of Chinese students in UK higher education has grown by more than a third in the past four years and is now over 120,000.
In 2018-2019, 35% of all non-EU students were from China. The numbers are set to rise again this year, but the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is not yet known.
International students are a valuable source of income for the UK university sector as they often pay two to three times the fees for UK students.
“The whole spirit of an educational course, which relies on collective critical research, rises or falls on the institution’s ability to guarantee freedom of expression, freedom of expression, and academic freedom for all,” said Patricia Thornton, Associate Professor of Chinese Politics at Oxford University.
But how do we do that in the wake of Hong Kong’s new Chinese National Security Act, which calls for self-censorship with its lack of red lines and generous extraterritorial provisions? How does one protect academic freedom when China claims the right to intervene everywhere? “
She said: I decided not to change the content of my education. However, like my colleagues in the United States, I am conscious of the duty to care for my students, many of whom are not UK citizens. My students will submit and view the work anonymously to provide some additional protection. “
Its students will be required to read anonymous research papers in the weekly classes, and small group lessons will be replaced with individual lessons. “This means that my lectures, reading lists, and didactic essay questions will remain largely the same, but students will be required to submit the anonymous work to one of their classmates.”
She said the advice is being issued that if classes are delivered online, there should be no attempt to record content or share materials with anyone outside the group.
The plaintiff, “We are all Hong Kong,” indicated that the extraterritorial ruling makes deportation possible.
The decision in Oxford follows similar steps by US elite colleges. The Wall Street Journal reported last month at Princeton University that students in the Chinese politics class would use symbols rather than names in their work, and Harvard Business School may exempt students from discussing politically sensitive topics if they are concerned about the risks.
Lord Patten, former British governor of Hong Kong and a fierce critic of the Communist Party of China, said: “Students who come from China to work in our universities come from universities that have cameras in the classroom and there are paid informers and jokes that tell them what’s going on. We must be very careful not to leak out. To our universities.
“Hong Kong represents all those values that China is concerned about – whether it is freedom of expression, recognition of the universality of human rights, or a determination to provide open education.”
“There is a great deal of concern about the new national security legislation in Hong Kong and its impact on freedom of expression. The crimes it introduced have been vaguely worded, leading to the fear that any criticism of the government could be done,” said Eva Bills, professor of law at Kings College London. To be treated as a criminal offense There is also concern about institutions created to enforce the law.There is also a risk that an individual’s case could be taken to the mainland where the legal process is deeply flawed.
“If you are a student or researcher visiting, say, the United Kingdom from Hong Kong or planning to visit Hong Kong and working on issues that are perceived as politically sensitive in Hong Kong, you have reason to be concerned that your work may get you in trouble, and this is what happens. The effect can be stifling and oppressive, also in the classroom. “
The British Association for Chinese Studies warned universities that the response to the Security Act “cannot be for teachers to err on the side of caution in their teaching content or for some China-related modules to be removed from the curriculum because they have been shown to be extremely difficult to deliver safely.”