China and our universities: time to wake up?

No offense to the gullible little bunnies, it’s all about power struggles and power balances on the international scene.

• Also read: Chinese “police stations” intervened in election campaigns

Countries have interests and aspirations. Often one person’s gains are another person’s losses.

It may be a pity, but that’s the way it is.


China is not our friend.

There is none more than Justin Trudeau, obsessed with the fantasy of supposed latent racism towards Chinese-Canadians, to refuse to see it.

China today, aggressive and oppressive, has nothing to do with the sleeping giant of a few years ago.

Every day brings new evidence of Chinese interference in our elections.

Chinese industrial espionage on Canadian soil has gone into high gear.

However, there is a vital area that goes under the radar: our universities, the prime venue for cutting-edge knowledge production.

I have been a university professor for 20 years. You’ve seen the Chinese presence rise in this environment.

The increase in the number of Chinese students in our universities and research partnerships with China has been amazing, especially in areas such as artificial intelligence, biogenetics, nanotechnology, new materials, etc.

China is using its advances in these areas for military purposes as well as to enhance surveillance of its citizens and to suppress opponents of its political system.

Our university leaders must wake up.

Obviously, this wouldn’t go without bringing up the damn dilemmas.

All university life is based on the sacred principle of academic freedom: the professor is free to pursue what he wants and to collaborate practically with whomever he wants.

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Science hardly knows national boundaries and requires cooperation to advance.

Knowledge production is expensive and very expensive. So our universities are always looking for money.

To take just one example, at my institution an international student who enrolls for an MBA will have to pay $59,000, while Quebec will pay $9,300.

So there is a strong financial incentive to constantly increase the number of international students, and the Chinese pool is truly inexhaustible.

I said earlier that the leaders of our university must wake up from their slumber.

In fact, many know the extent of the Chinese influence, but would rather look away and put a heavy lid on the pot.

Good luck to the journalist who would like to be updated on all the sources of funding related to China that our universities drink from.

Professional ethics

Another problem is that our researchers are – and this is natural – ambitious, and they want to break into a very competitive environment, so they don’t care much about the source of the money that drives their teams and laboratories.

Another problem is that closing or reducing the flow of the Chinese financial spigot will mean finding other sources of financing.

There’s a lot of talk about ethics in the university world and that’s the problem: we’re mostly too happy to talk about it.

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