Unsurprisingly, the alienation is linked to a weird, borderline xenophobic fascination with China’s influence on Dutch universities
Five scientific directors at the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Groningen have sent a joint letter to the university newspaper reporting that large numbers of Chinese students, researchers, and lecturers feel alienated by their peers. Perhaps unsurprisingly for anyone that has seen recent shrieking editorials about ‘Chinese influence’ in Dutch universities, the scientific directors report that they feel distrust whipping around the faculty.
At the beginning of February, several Dutch government departments collaborated on the State Actors Threat Assessment, which warned that the Chinese government may use educational staff and students for espionage, reports OOGTV.
Rather than causing a gentle but thorough investigation into, for example, how the Chinese state seeks to change narratives around events like the ongoing Uyghur genocide in Xinjiang, the report provoked a knee-jerk reaction from various people and publications in the Netherlands that borders on outright mistrust of anyone from China.
“Our direct colleagues and students, people who work with us on a daily basis to make a success of education and research at the RUG, feel discredited without any form of individual evidence,” the professors write. “The necessary, broader discussion about cooperation with China should not lead to stigmatization and exclusion of a specific group of people within our community.”
Perhaps the universities’ new stated aim of increasing the number of non-Western views in the RUG’s courses might go some way to begin to redress this (Ukrant).
Image: the Confucius institute at Troy University in Alabama. By Wikimedia user Kreeder13. License here.
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