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Communist Party Activities in Sino-foreign Joint Education Programs

In the online alumni group of a Sino-foreign joint university program in Beijing, news has been spreading about the university stepping up its political education. A former student, who became a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) member during college, responded with a “thumbs-up” and said that some foreign teachers once forced their political views upon him and if such a thing were happening today, he would report the foreign teacher to the school.

Voice of America (VOA) did not specify the name of the school or the program, but did mention that the institution cooperates with many U.S. and U.K universities, adopts Western textbooks, and that most of the teachers are foreign. The Communist Party has been quite active in this institution.

In addition to recruiting Party members, the school organizes student CCP members and cadres to participate in “red education.” One year, they traveled to Jiangxi, the center of Communist movement during the revolutionary period from 1927 to 1949. They put on the uniform of the Red Army, carried a rifle, and symbolically walked a segment of the Long March of the Red Army.

One former student, Lin Yuzhou (a pseudonym is used per the interviewee’s request), is also a CCP member. Lin told VOA that she did not think that the content of Western coursework is in conflict with the ideology of the Communist Party. Lin believes that joining the Party is a “very glorious matter and offers a strong sense of belonging.” Many of her fellow students also wanted to join the Party and people’s motivation may be different. “Families or teachers may influence them or they may want to have more choices for their future in China. Government agencies or large state-owned enterprises may give priority to CCP members,” she said.

Staff members of a number of Sino-foreign cooperatively-run schools and institutions told the media that the CCP’s Central Organization Department and the Ministry of Education have, in recent years, been emphasizing the establishment of Party organizations in these schools. They also retain seats for Communist officials on the school’s management board. There are currently more than 2,000 Sino-foreign cooperative education projects in China, most of which are affiliated with local Chinese universities.

The University of Nottingham Ningbo China, an overseas campus of the University of Nottingham, situated in the city of Ningbo in the coastal province of Zhejiang, is one of the few such universities which is an independent legal entity. On the first day that the campus was open, the school established its Communist Party Committee, with the Vice President as the deputy secretary of the Committee. On July 2, 2018, Stephen Morgan, who has served as Nottingham Ningbo’s associate provost since 2016, was removed from its management board for criticizing the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and for being a critic of broader party-backed initiatives in the university, but he has remained on the faculty.

A few days ago, in the Sino-foreign cooperative project where Lin Yuzhou has studied, there was a student CCP branch secretaries and overseas contacts training session. The Party secretary of the college asked these contacts to pay close attention to the ideological dynamics of overseas Party members and maintain timely communications with the college.

Source: Voice of America, July 2, 2018