Another Australian university limits academic freedom due to Chinese pressure

Charles Darwin University apologizes after professor suggested China was origin of coronavirus

  3572
Charles Darwin University. (Wikipedia photo)

Charles Darwin University. (Wikipedia photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Charles Darwin University (CDU) has become the second Australian educational institution to give in to pressure from its Chinese students this week, apologizing for a staff member who suggested the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) had originated in China.

Following news Monday (Aug 3) the University of New South Wales (UNSW) had deleted a Twitter post critical of the Hong Kong security law due to pressure from its Chinese students, CDU also issued an apology for its civic engineering professor Charlie Fairfield after he linked the global outbreak to China in an assignment.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Chinese students in a sustainability course complained that Fairfield had attempted to mislead CDU students in the introduction to an assignment on sustainable economic recoveries from the COVID-19 crisis. The background information stated that a "global pandemic originating in Wuhan, China has caused over 250,000 deaths, rendered millions of people ill, and inflicted recession on most areas of the global economy.”

The Chinese students accused Fairfield of "racism and hatred" while claiming that international researchers had discovered coronavirus in Europe way before they found it in Wuhan. Urging the school to address the situation, they said their feelings were "deeply hurt" by Fairfield's "horrible behavior."

In response to the complaints, CDU Student Administration Director Sam Jacob apologized and said the assignment contained "inaccurate and insensitive wording." He said the wording had been revised and promised that similar mistakes would not happen again.

In a prior incident, UNSW removed an article it shared on Twitter over the weekend after being accused by its Chinese student body of interfering in China's internal affairs. Although UNSW claimed earlier the tweet was deleted because it was not "in line with the school policies," the university's vice-chancellor Ian Jabobs has since apologized for the decision and said the post should have never been removed.