Home World Human Rights Watch says China is threatening academic freedom in Australia | Australian News

Human Rights Watch says China is threatening academic freedom in Australia | Australian News

Human Rights Watch says China is threatening academic freedom in Australia | Australian News


Human Rights Watch accused Australian universities of failing to protect the academic freedom of pro-democracy Chinese students, saying that many of them changed their behavior and conducted self-censorship to avoid harassment and “reports” to domestic authorities.

In a new report Human Rights Watch released news on Wednesday that Australian universities, which rely on tuition fees for international students, “turn a blind eye to the harassment and surveillance of the Chinese government and its agents.”

The organization stated that it interviewed 24 pro-democracy students from mainland China and Hong Kong, and verified three cases in which the Chinese police visited or asked to meet with their families regarding student activities in Australia.

In one case, a student opened a Twitter account and posted pro-democracy messages while studying in Australia, and the Chinese authorities threatened to go to jail.

The student told Human Rights Watch that the police in mainland China “contacted my parents…and issued a formal warning. They told me to’shut up’.”

“They said I must close my Twitter and stop spreading anti-government messages. If I don’t cooperate, they may accuse me of a crime,” the student said. “I deleted my Twitter account. Because I was worried about my parents.”


Human Rights Watch also stated that pro-Beijing students in Australia harassed and intimidated those who expressed support for the pro-democracy movement. A female student reported that she had received threatening messages from her classmates after participating in the Hong Kong democracy demonstration in Australia.

“He was like,’I’m looking at you.’ Personally, I feel very scared,” she said. “The courses I took have 98% of mainland students. The students speak ill of me. I am not loyal to the country.”

Human Rights Watch said that every democracy student interviewed expressed concern that their activities in Australia might cause the Chinese authorities to punish or interrogate their family members returning home, and said that these concerns affected what they said in class and how they treated their friends. Choice, even their decision to attend class or participate in activities.

“I have to self-censor,” a mainland student said. “This is reality. I came to Australia, but I still don’t have freedom. I never talk about politics here.”

But Human Rights Watch said that most of these students did not report the harassment to their universities because they believed that their universities would not take threats seriously, or they were worried that their universities would only sympathize with Chinese students who are relatives in Beijing.

According to Human Rights Watch, harassment is not limited to students.

The organization stated that pro-Beijing students and social media users also harassed, intimidated, and human-searched some academics at Australian universities—publishing their personal information—if these scholars were deemed to criticize the Chinese Communist Party or discuss “sensitive” Taiwan, Issues such as Tibet, Hong Kong or Xinjiang.

In a case last year, pro-Beijing supporters bullied, harassed, and harassed a scholar who described Taiwan as a country and defended Taiwanese students. Therefore, HRW stated that Australian universities had to temporarily remove the scholar’s teaching profile from the university website.

Human Rights Watch said that scholars from or who specialize in China studies also reported that they often conduct self-censorship when talking about China. One scholar even reported that a university official told him to provide a “sterilized” version of his China research unit.

“When all of our teaching was online, I received an email from an IT leader stating that they had set up a VPN [virtual private network] In China, people are a little bit worried about the content of teaching,” he told Human Rights Watch. “Another scholar who is also teaching another China studies unit provided Chinese students with a’sterilized’ version of the course. Is this something I would like to consider for my course? I said,’No, I don’t want to do that’. “

Human Rights Watch said that all of this happened in the context of the Chinese government’s efforts to undermine global academic freedom. It said that in recent years, the Chinese government has become bolder in trying to monitor overseas Chinese students and censor academic discussions and academic investigations.

HRW Australian researcher Sophie McNeill said that Australian universities—approximately 40% of international students are from China—must take more measures to deal with the actions of the Chinese government.

She said: “Australian university administrators have failed to fulfill their duty of care to safeguard the rights of Chinese students.” “Australian universities rely on tuition fees brought by international students, while turning a blind eye to harassment and surveillance by the Chinese government and its agents. Universities should speak up. And take concrete actions to support the academic freedom of these students and faculty.”


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