Representative on Guangdong panel calls for university campuses abroad

A representative of Macau on the main consultative body of the government of neighbouring Guangdong province has argued that universities from the two regions should open campuses abroad, including in countries where Portuguese is an official language.

The representative, Mok Chi Wai, said that the universities of Macau and Guangdong should also work together to create joint institutes and recruit foreign students, the Chinese-language press reported on Monday.

The representative cited in particular Portuguese-language countries, Africa, member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and participants in China’s ‘Belt and Road’ infrastructure initiative as prime targets.

Speaking at the current session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Guangdong, Mok Chi Wai said that the measure would “strengthen the international influence of Chinese culture and values.”

Besides being a member of the Standing Committee of the Guangdong consultative body, Mok Chi Wai is also president of the Macau Youth Federation.

A spokeswoman for the federation told Lusa that the suggestion had been made on behalf of several deputies from Macau and that it would therefore “not be convenient” to reveal more details of the proposal.

The Confucius Institute, as a Chinese government agency, has established delegations in schools and university campuses in five universities in Portugal – Porto, Aveiro, Coimbra, Lisbon and Minho – as well as in several in each of Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, and in the University of Sao Tome and Principe and the University of Cabo Verde.

Since 2011, Chinese universities have set up campuses or institutes abroad, including in Laos, Malaysia and the UK.

In June 2021, thousands of Hungarians took to the streets of Budapest to protest against the establishment of a branch of Fudan University, the first campus of a Chinese university in Europe. The city council renamed the streets around the site with names that invoke sensitive issues for the Chinese government: ‘Freedom Street for Hong Kong’, ‘Dalai Lama Street’, ‘Free the Uighur Martyrs Street’ and ‘Bishop Xie Shiguang Street’ – the latter in honour of a persecuted Chinese Catholic priest.

In December 2019 Fudan University, in Shanghai, which had been considered one of the most liberal in China, announced the removal of the concepts of “freedom of thought” and “academic integrity” from the basic principles enshrined in its statutes, with these being amended to highlight “the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party under the guidance of Marxism and socialism” and guaranteeing to “implement the party’s direction, principles and policy.”