‘Autonomous’ Academics Happily Take Orders from Communists

The Cold War may be over, but the useful idiots of the world’s remaining communist powers still pullulate in the West, in academia especially.

When Australian billionaire philanthropist Paul Ramsay bequeathed an extraordinary fortune to fund scholarship in Western civilisation at Australian universities, the media and academia erupted in fury. Foaming and gibbering about “racism” and “colonialism”, the left-dominated academies blithered that the proposed Ramsay Centres “threatened academic autonomy”. But, just to banish all doubt that the academics were motivated by naked hostility to the West rather than any real concern for academic autonomy, it turns out that the useful idiots of academia are more than happy to ask “How high?” when a brutal communist regime cracks the whip.

Australian universities hosting Chinese government-funded education centres have signed agreements explicitly stating they must comply with Beijing’s decision-making authority over teaching at the facilities.

Eleven previously undisclosed contracts between the universities and Hanban, the Beijing-based headquarters that funds and oversees the global network of Confucius Institutes, shed light on the different approaches taken to safeguarding academic freedom and autonomy under the lucrative arrangements.

Agreements signed by the University of Queensland, Griffith University, La Trobe University and Charles Darwin University state in identical clauses that they “must accept the assessment of the [Confucius Institute] Headquarters on the teaching quality” at their centres.

The wording, which does not place any qualifications on Hanban’s overriding authority, appears to hand Beijing more control than versions signed by other universities and will fan concerns about the institutes, which are a key plank of the Chinese Communist Party’s global soft power effort.

“Soft power”, here, is a euphemism for espionage, bribery and thuggish intimidation. It’s already been revealed that Chinese communist operatives embedded in Australian universities spy on and threaten Chinese nationals as well as academics who dare stray from the Beijing line.

But who cares, apparently, when there’s a river of ideologically-acceptable communist money to be tapped?

Universities worldwide have embraced the centres but critics are concerned about censorship of sensitive political issues and centres operating as platforms for propaganda and undue influence on campus and beyond…UQ students occupied their Confucius Institute on Wednesday, protesting the Chinese government’s conduct and questioning the university’s ties to Beijing. In tense and sometimes violent scenes, protestors clashed with pro-China students.

Naturally, the grasping useful idiots have no end of mealy-mouthed excuses for their double standards.

A spokesman for Griffith University said the Confucius Institute was not involved in delivering formal academic qualifications and was instead “focused on offering cultural and language programs for our local communities” under the direction of a senior university academic.

A spokeswoman for La Trobe said its institute “does not engage in management of any award courses of the university or in other academic endeavours of the university and so there is no impact on academic autonomy and independence”.

Others beg to differ.

John Fitzgerald, an emeritus professor at Swinburne University of Technology and leading expert on Chinese politics, said the clauses on teaching quality assessments could place universities in breach of higher education standards if they related to the awarding of degrees.

“Even if they are not in breach of [Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency] standards, accepting foreign government assessments of Australian university teaching programs is hardly a good look,” he said.

“Australian universities enjoy freedom and autonomy because they are generally believed to be self-governing institutions not subject to foreign government interference. Anything that undermines that belief risks harming the sector as a whole.”


Between Confucius Institutes and “Islamic Studies” institutes funded by authoritarian foreign states, it’s already gone far beyond that point.