A Dutch university in Amsterdam will no longer accept donations from China to support a human rights centre. The university was under the government’s radar for the possibility of espionage for the Chinese government. This comes after media reported that the Vrije Universiteit (Free University) of Amsterdam had received funding in 2018, 2019, and 2020 from the Southwest University of Politics and Law in Chongqing, China for the Cross-Cultural Human Rights Centre (CCHRC), which aims “to develop a global vision on human rights,” reported ANI, citing Dutch News.
The Netherlands Education Minister Robbetr Diijkgraaf said, “Knowledge institutes must be alert to unwanted influence from other countries,” while several Members of Parliament stated that they would raise the issue and question the ruling party in parliament. Notably, VU University was one of two Amsterdam institutions to form a partnership with Chinese tech giant Huawei. The controversy over the contentious partnership started in 2020.
Netherlands: Dutch University allegedly involved in espionage for Chinese government
The government has warned both VU and UvA over the possibility of espionage for the Chinese government. At first, the university justified the funding, but later stated that there is no place for favouritism, and even “a semblance” of favouritism in the centre’s work has to be avoided. The Free University authorities have now said they will return the funding to the Chinese government.
According to NOS, several members of the centre have previously supported and praised China’s human rights record in Chinese state media and on social media platforms, which have articulated similar views to those of the Communist regime in China. Meanwhile, there is no proof of other institutions involved in supporting the Chinese government, as per the education inspectorate.
China involved in espionage
This is not the first time Beijing has been accused of being involved in espionage overseas. Several government-affiliated bodies, NGOs, China’s Ministry of State Security, numerous front organizations, and state-owned enterprises have used different methods to spy on other governments. Earlier, a report had emerged that alleged Chinese hackers had been obtaining footage by hacking the security cameras of the African Union headquarters building in Ethiopia. There are several other reports from various publications that claim China employs a variety of tactics, including cyber spying to gain access to sensitive information remotely, signals intelligence, and human intelligence.
With Inputs from ANI