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British university head urges cooperation with Taiwan rather than China

British universities call for coherent China policy as guide to advance international cooperation

( video screenshot)

( video screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Anthony Finkelstein, president of City, University of London, has flagged the threat of China and called for broader engagement with Taiwan for research in Sinology.

The Confucius Institutes are an apparent tool of Beijing to push its political narratives and universities in the U.K. should be rid of them, Finkelstein said at a hearing held by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons on Tuesday (Feb. 28).

Finkelstein said Taiwan should be an alternative source for China and Mandarin study. It would serve the interest of the U.K. to facilitate bilateral cooperation in this regard, CNA quoted him as saying.

Fiona Quimbre, a RAND Corporation analyst who also attended the hearing on U.K. universities’ engagement with autocracies, sounded the alarm about China’s talent recruitment schemes, the workings of student clubs, donations to and investments in schools, and how Beijing uses connections to influence the focus of the U.K.’s academic research.

Taiwan has been quick to fill the gap as the world grows wary of the Beijing-linked Confucius Institutes.

Last year, a group of British MPs were in talks with Taiwan about providing Mandarin teachers as the U.K. government sought to close the institutes. The Taiwanese government has been expanding the presence of the Taiwan Center for Mandarin Learning overseas, having set up 54 units in the U.S. and 12 in Europe.