DHARAMSHALA: China Scholarship Council, a branch of the Chinese government that funds overseas study for Chinese citizens, has announced that it wouldn’t provide scholarships for its students aspiring to study at UC San Diego, according to media reports.
The move, apparently prompted by the University’s invitation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to address its commencement ceremony in June, is seen ostensibly as a step towards discouraging other overseas universities from inviting speakers with views contradicting the Chinese government.
An icon of universal peace and non-violence, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was invited to address the University’s commencement ceremony on 17 June. The address by the Tibetan spiritual leader was hailed by many as ‘historic’ and ‘inspirational’ while a section of Chinese students from the University have protested it over claims that the Tibetan spiritual leader represents a ‘separatist clique’.
The protests from the Chinese students, with subtle backing from the Chinese consulate, has led to concerns among students as well as professors at that time who have grown nervous over the Chinese government’s increased encroachment on academic freedom in US and other western universities over the past few years.
It has also fueled fears within the overseas Chinese student communities with some describing it as as ‘unethical’. Some have called it undermining the spirit of free debate that underpins liberal education system.
However, the scrapping of state scholarship funds for UC San Diego was only one of the many pressure tactics used by the Chinese government to nudge western Universities to accommodate official Chinese polices and sensitivities. Over the past few years, various academic institutions have also faced pressure to self-censor to appease either Chinese authorities or Chinese students themselves.