International students must be taught ‘Aussie values’: Diplomat


A former top Chinese diplomat has said the state's universities must give international students a crash course in Australian values in a bid to stop the bullying of Chinese dissidents and Hong Kong pro-democracy advocates on university campuses.

In a submission to a NSW Parliament Upper House Inquiry, Former Consul for Political Affairs at the Chinese Consulate General Yonglin Chen also said universities' "imprudent emphasis" on high fee paying international students was undermining academic freedoms and forcing universities to promote favourable narratives about mainland China.

"People from autocracies like China can reasonably be presumed to have suffered systematic brainwashing, and consequently need more clearly to understand the concepts of human rights, democracy and freedom," he wrote in the submission to the Inquiry Into the Future Development of the NSW Tertiary Education Sector.

He urged the NSW Parliament to pass a bill making a course on Australian values mandatory for international students who do not come from democratic countries.

Ex-Chinese diplomat Yonglin Chen.
Ex-Chinese diplomat Yonglin Chen.


Dr Michael Spence, vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney
Dr Michael Spence, vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney

He called for the abolition of Confucius Institutes and the Chinese Students and Scholars Associations at the state's universities which he said had restricted academics who were critical of the Chinese Communist Party.

"China has been very successful in infiltrating NSW tertiary institutions. its achievements are remarkable," he said.

He said the Confucius Institute bylaws stipulate activities conducted within the must respect Chinese cultural customs and abide by Chinese laws.

"That confines academic discussions related to democracy, China's military rise, issues on Tibet, Falun Gong, Uyghur, Taiwan and Tiananmen Massacre in 1989," he said.

The warning comes after the University of NSW last month bowed to pressure from Chinese students and censored academic Dr Elaine Pearson who called out human rights abuses in Hong Kong.

Professor Ian Jacobs, chair of the Group of Eight universities and Vice-Chancellor of Uni of NSW. Picture: Kym Smith
Professor Ian Jacobs, chair of the Group of Eight universities and Vice-Chancellor of Uni of NSW. Picture: Kym Smith


At the inquiry's hearing yesterday, UNSW Vice Chancellor Ian Jacobs acknowledged the university had failed after Upper House One Nation MP Mark Latham questioned him over the incident.

"We are not perfect, and as Mr Latham pointed out a particular situation in which we failed, we acknowledge that and learn the lessons from that and move on," he said.

"We will protect freedom of speech and academic freedom absolutely in our university and on our campuses."

But University of Sydney Vice Chancellor Dr Michael Spence dismissed a notice received under the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act probing its failure to register their confucius institute as baffling.

"The inquiry from the Attorney-General's Department is baffling and we will reply to it saying it is kind of baffling," it said.

"There is no single instance that has been brought to our attention by the intelligence services of there being a problem with the university's engagement with China."

Originally published as International students must be taught 'Aussie values': Diplomat