Are Chinese students undermining freedom of expression in Australian universities?
In recent months, there have been at least four prominent cases of Chinese students at Australian universities complaining about teaching materials which China considers incorrect or insulting. The universities were forced to apologize or release statements. A debate has also been generated on whether freedom of expression is being undermined in Australian campuses. Concerns have also been raised on whether Chinese embassy pressurized the universities.
Chinese students complained about lecturer characterizing Taiwan a country
Last month, a video was posted on social media showing Chinese students at the University of Newcastle Australia complaining to their lecturer about Taiwan being categorized as a country. In a statement, the university said the respective course materials were based on a Transparency International report which described Taiwan as a country. It also urged lecturers and students to respect cultural differences and sensitivities.
Chinese consulate intervened in the Taiwan matter
A University of Newcastle spokesperson said the institution had engaged with the Chinese consulate-general in Sydney over the issue. The matter exposed "the increasing influence exerted by Beijing on Australian university campuses," The Australian newspaper reported. The consulate's education counsellor said the lecturer had "touched the 'One China' bottom line," referring to the Beijing's policy that Taiwan is considered part of its territory.
Lecturer criticized for showing map of India having Chinese-claimed territory
A University of Sydney lecturer was criticized last month for displaying a map showing Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, both Chinese-claimed territories, as part of India. The lecturer later apologized, saying he inadvertently used an outdated map. Last month, an Australian National University academic apologized for writing a warning against cheating in English and Chinese. The warning was interpreted as targeting Chinese students unfairly.
Monash University lecturer suspended for asking offensive test question
In May, a lecturer at Monash University was suspended for asking a test question suggesting that Chinese officials only speak the truth when "drunk or careless."
Nationalistic Chinese students prevent staff, students from criticizing Beijing
In July, Australia-based expert Merriden Varrall described Chinese international students "a threat to Australian openness." There have been instances of Chinese students, driven by nationalist sentiments, preventing fellow students and university staff from "from expressing critical opinions" on Beijing's policies. "It is restricting both the freedom of lecturers and fellow students to say what they want," said Monash University lecturer Jonathan Benney.Share this timeline