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Deutsche Welle: German Scholar Gives up Teaching in China

Deutsche Welle’s Chinese website published an interview with Alicia Hennig, a scholar at the Dresden University of Technology. Hennig explained why she no longer wants to teach in China after she was in the country for 15 years.

She started teaching when she worked at a Chinese university in 2015. At the time, China had already begun to restrict the use of Western textbooks. She had to order her Philosophy of Economics textbooks from overseas, but the books were held up in customs.

When she was at Southeast University in Nanjing in October 2018, classrooms were already equipped with surveillance cameras. This was one reason that she did not want to continue teaching business ethics in China. Human rights is also a topic in the curriculum. She said, “I don’t want to teach in China anymore because I’m worried that I won’t be able to have a real discussion in the classroom.”

Hennig also found that organizing conferences with foreigners (non-Chinese) became extremely difficult because of the review process and the need to ensure that ideological red-lines were not crossed. She added that there is a lot of ideological oversight and censorship in Chinese universities. The school dean once asked her to remove certain comments from social media.

Regarding the issue of some German schools wanting to collaborate with Chinese universities, Hennig cautioned that, in addition to the possibility that the bureaucrats used corruption in dealing with academic funds, it is also important to pay attention to the fields of collaborative research. “The field of humanities is very much restricted in terms of ideology; (cooperation in) natural sciences and also technology cannot exclude (Chinese) military applications.”

Source: Deutsche Welle, October 12, 2021