China and our universities

 

Sir, – As a graduate of UCD, it was with a mixture of shock and disbelief that I read in The Irish Times that the university allows a Chinese state-backed entity like the Confucius Institute to be directly involved in teaching about the Chinese political system to degree-level students (“UCD risks being a pawn in China’s bigger game”, Opinion & Analysis, September 15th). All the more incomprehensible when under Xi Jinping there has seen a dramatic crackdown which extends from the alleged genocide of Uighurs in Xinjiang to the crushing of freedom in Hong Kong, in addition to the many Chinese academics and journalists imprisoned for their political views or even seeking to expose Covid-19 in the early days of the pandemic in Wuhan.

Indeed, the one thing that has become very clear since the Covid pandemic began is the importance of accurate and honest information – a role in which the media must essentially play a vital role. Several journalists in China have paid a high price for seeking to do just that and none more so than citizen journalist Zhang Zhan. Sentenced to four years for reporting on the pandemic when it started in Wuhan, she is now critically ill in prison, having lost half her body weight in a protest at her sentence for reporting the truth. Against that background, how UCD could align itself with a state actively involved in the persecution of journalists and other large-scale atrocities and human rights abuses beggars belief. – Yours, etc,

RONAN L TYNAN,

Dublin 3.