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China’s Clout in Academia

VU International News and Reviews No. 120 September 24 2018

May 2019

Two reports have appeared on the influence of China’s political structures on the work of academics: One, A Preliminary Study of PRC Political Influence and Interference Activities in American Higher Education and the other Repressive Experiences among Chinese Scholars:

New Evidence from Survey Data. The study on influence in the US is published by the Woodrow Wilson Center for International scholars; the study on China scholars both from China and from elsewhere by Princeton.

The Wilson study – based on 100 interviews in the US – concludes that the concerns about Chinese influence are sometimes overblown, but still warranted and based on actual interference by Chinese diplomats. The Princeton study shows that although ‘only’ 9% of scholars were questioned or detained for a short time, 26% met with denied access to data and 67% feel some kind of pressure to tread cautiously on their ‘sensitive’ research ground.

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