Students from China may defend their country but that doesn’t make them Communist Party agents



Chinese students come to Australia to study for the same reasons as other international students.
from shutterstock.com

Diarmuid Cooney-O’Donoghue, Monash University and Jonathan Benney, Monash University

Chinese students with nationalist sentiments can be seen as agents of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Such concerns were particularly evident during reports of clashes at Australian and New Zealand universities between pro-CCP and pro-Hong Kong students.

In similar recent clashes in Sheffield, UK, onlookers claimed Chinese students were threatening citizens’ right to protest and freedom of speech. There have been concerns the Chinese government is extending its influence into Western universities, threatening academic freedom, freedom of speech and liberal values.

Confucius Institutes are criticised as tools through which the Chinese government spreads its propaganda under the guise of teaching Chinese culture and language. Chinese students who aggressively protect their country’s reputation may be lumped into the same category.




Read more:
Explainer: what are Confucius Institutes and do they teach Chinese propaganda?


But research shows Chinese students come to Australia to study for much the same reasons as students from other countries – to gain a competitive edge over graduates in their home country by learning English and experiencing another culture.

Why students from China go overseas

Over the past 20 years, Chinese international students have become highly visible on Australian campuses. International students account for more than 50% of enrolments at some Australian universities and Chinese students make up nearly 40% of all international students.

While Chinese students study in Australia for many reasons, a recent study showed most were here for economic reasons. Having an international degree and English language skills can give job seekers an edge over their locally educated peers.

Acquiring permanent residency in Australia is also a common aim, although changes in policy are making this increasingly difficult. A 2010 study showed an American degree can also increase Chinese students’ social status in China.

A 2018 study of Chinese women studying in Australia showed studying abroad could be an opportunity to escape traditional expectations such as marrying early and having children. It also provides a chance for the students to explore their sexuality.

Does the CCP control Chinese students overseas?

Since the 1990s China has intensified its “ideological education” or “moral education” programs. These begin in the early years of school and continue throughout university. Ideological education aims to bolster support for the CCP and make liberal democracy less attractive.

Chinese international students have grown up with this education and have benefited from the economic success of the China Model. Some students from China fear political change inside China could threaten the country’s stability. But this doesn’t automatically mean they are hostile to liberal values.




Read more:
Why Chinese and Hong Kong students clash in Australia: the patriotic v the protest movement


Some students believe democracy is suited to Western nations only, or that multi-party democracies are more responsive to citizen demands. Others may be supportive of democracy, but still see criticism of China as Western bias.

The CCP recognises that international education can have a liberalising impact on students. In response, it seeks to extend its influence over students abroad, especially by providing economic and employment incentives to international students who support the CCP on their return to China.

Chinese Students and Scholars Associations maintain links between the PRC and Chinese students by holding social events and emphasising patriotism.

Some students who engage in anti-CCP activities have reported being threatened by the CCP. One Chinese student, who discussed sensitive political issues on social media in the US, claimed she was questioned for hours by state security when she returned to China.

The CCP encourages overseas students to challenge liberal values and shape China’s global image. Some Chinese students have challenged Australian lecturers who criticise China. If these challenges become hostile, students and lecturers may avoid discussing contentious topics such as human rights, the status of Taiwan, or the Tienanmen protests.

But students who reject criticism of China also demonstrate that they are expressing their right to free speech and confronting and learning about ideas contrary to their beliefs.




Read more:
Recent campus attacks show universities need to do more to protect international students


When Chinese students don’t support the CCP, it is still pragmatic for them to show support for the PRC, or at least keep a low profile to avoid risk to themselves and their families. Upholding the safety of students in Australia should be a priority for universities, even if it upsets the CCP.

Australian universities’ responsibilities to students from China

Australian universities promote themselves as internationalised, culturally diverse places where students can build global friendships. However, international students’ experiences often don’t reflect this.

Studying overseas is frequently alienating, and Chinese students’ experiences in Australia are no different.

PRC students mostly live in a “parallel society” without Australian friends. Brief interactions, or group work at university, can increase negative feelings because both international and local students believe the other’s opinions are biased, while language barriers also cause frustration.

Ideally, engaging Chinese students with liberal values would involve them studying social sciences in small classes. But universities and students have not pursued this; almost 80% of Chinese international students in Australia study engineering, science, IT, commerce and architecture in large lecture-style classes.

Encouraging students to engage in politics is an effective way of exposing them to democratic political processes and values. Discouraging or denying Chinese students the right to participate in student and national politics because of suspicions about their political loyalty is the exact opposite of the approach universities should be taking.The Conversation

Diarmuid Cooney-O’Donoghue, PhD student, Monash University and Jonathan Benney, Lecturer in Chinese Studies, Monash University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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China: Persecution News Update


The links below are to reports relating to the persecution of Christians in China (The most recent articles are at the top).

For more visit:
https://www.persecution.org/2019/06/13/jailed-pastors-wife-released-prison-china/
https://www.persecution.org/2019/06/13/china-slates-24-village-churches-destruction/
https://www.christianheadlines.com/contributors/michael-foust/china-installs-surveillance-cameras-in-churches-to-monitor-christians.html
https://www.persecution.org/2019/06/11/priest-flees-chinese-province-church-demolition/

China: Persecution News Update


The links below are to reports concerning the persecution of Christians in China (the most recent are at the top).

For more visit:
https://www.persecution.org/2019/06/04/china-attempts-new-propaganda-efforts-christians/
https://www.persecution.org/2019/06/03/chinese-marriage-scam-targets-foreign-christian-girls/
https://www.persecution.org/2019/06/01/hearing-held-chinas-xunsiding-church/

Vietnam: Persecution News Update


The link below is to an article that reports on persecution news from Vietnam.

For more visit:
https://www.persecution.org/2019/03/24/hmong-montagnard-christians-vietnam-stateless-due-faith/

China’s ambition burns bright – with Xi Jinping firmly in charge



File 20171025 5863 5lsjjy.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Xi Jinping affirmed that, within a few decades, China would become a prosperous modern socialist society and the world’s most important country.
Reuters/Thomas Peter

Nick Bisley, La Trobe University

The most important political event of 2017, the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress, has concluded. And while there was much to digest, one image above all stands out: Xi Jinping’s political dominance and his burning ambition for China.

The party congress is held every five years and has two main functions. The first is to lay out the policy program for the coming half-decade. The other is to confirm the people who will occupy the key leadership roles within the party. In short, it’s about policy and people.

The tone was set at the Xi’s opening address. Formally presenting the work report of the 18th Central Committee, he outlined the huge steps China has taken over the past five years and his vision for China over not just the next five years, but out to 2049 – the centenary of the People’s Republic of China’s foundation.

He affirmed that within a few decades, China would become a prosperous modern socialist society and the world’s most important country, both in terms of national power and international influence.

Gone is the old dictum that China has to bide its time and hide its power. Humility and caution have been replaced by confident and assertive leadership.

Xi also declared that China would remain economically open and provide leadership on climate change and other environmental concerns. The centrepiece of China’s international policy will be the Belt and Road Initiative that is now part of the party’s constitution.

But Xi was equally stern about threats and challenges, whether from within or beyond – the country would use all means to defend its interests and sovereignty. This means China’s muscular approach to disputes in the East and South China Sea, with India and elsewhere, is certain to continue.

Hard work, ongoing reform and leadership will be needed to bring all this about. The only force capable of doing this, made clear at the congress, is the Chinese Communist Party.

While nods were made toward market forces playing a more important role in resource allocation, the congress’ message was unmistakable: the key player in the economy, indeed in all aspects of Chinese life, will be the party. This is Leninism for the 21st century.

And the party will be unified around an austere vision laid out by Xi. The anti-corruption program that has been such a significant part of his first five years in office will become a permanent campaign.

Xi had launched the anti-graft measures to root out the significant problem of corruption, but also to eliminate rival centres of power. That will be a core element of party business in the future.

In his first five years, Xi focused on consolidating his power base, unifying the party and presenting a more confident face to the world. The congress made clear that the next five are about paramount leader Xi driving China to its position atop the international totem pole.

At the very start of the congress, the opening address gave a clue as to what was coming the work program presented by Xi was “for a new era”.

Xi made clear that the People’s Republic of China’s history can be divided into three eras. The first was the creation of the republic, led by Mao. The reform period, led by Deng Xiaoping was its second. Now the third era, in which the “Chinese dream of national rejuvenation” to be realised by Xi, has begun. With the Leninism of party centrality has also come a disturbing nascent cult of personality.

To formalise this on the congress’ final day, delegates unanimously voted to incorporate “Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese charactersitics” into the party constitution. His is now a core purpose of the party and marks him out as the most powerful figure within the party for so long as he remains alive.

Prior to the congress there was much speculation about whether or not he would seek to break the party norm of two five-year terms as general secretary. By this move he has rendered such questions moot.

Whether he remains in office for more than five years or whether he formally stands down has become almost immaterial: he will be the dominant figure in the country.

To reinforce this, when the new seven-man standing committee of the politburo was announced the day after the congress’ conclusion there was no obvious successor as part of the grouping. All five of the new faces – Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng – will need to retire at the next congress. So while the leadership is new, it is entirely subordinate to the general secretary.

Xi now clearly sits atop the party and the party commands China. Over the coming three decades China will seek to become the world’s dominant country.

Notwithstanding Xi’s huge confidence there is a very considerable amount of work to be done to realise these ambitions. It is far from certain whether China’s economy be reformed in the ways necessary to drive the levels of growth needed to fuel this program.

Equally, the party will face continual challenges of unity and legitimacy.

The ConversationInternationally, it is difficult to imagine the US acquiescing to China’s desire to supplant it at the centre of world affairs.

Nick Bisley, Executive Director of La Trobe Asia and Professor of International Relations, La Trobe University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

China: Persecution News Update


The links below are to articles reporting on persecution news from China (the most recent are at the top).

For more visit:
http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/71450/20171004/china-detains-two-christian-women-3-y-o-missionary-work.htm
http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/2113277/former-hong-kong-eoc-official-loses-gratuity-fee-retrial
http://www.persecution.org/2017/09/27/china-losing-freedom-in-every-aspect/
http://www.christiantimes.com/article/china-intensifies-crackdown-on-churches-with-new-plans-to-force-registration-with-government/72905.htm
https://international.la-croix.com/news/cross-accidentally-set-alight-as-chinese-officials-take-it-from-church/5963
https://www.ucanews.com/news/chinese-priest-gets-jail-time-for-theft-supporters-say-he-was-framed/80303
http://www.chinaaid.org/2017/09/christian-academy-banned-for.html

Cambodia, Vietnam and Philippines: Persecution News Update


The links below are to articles reporting on persecution news from Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines, particularly in reference to Montagnard Christians (the most recent are at the top).

For more visit:
https://www.ucanews.com/news/the-betrayal-of-vietnams-forgotten-christians/80364
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/refugees-set-departure
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/well-founded-fears-montagnards-returning-vietnam-speak-dread-what-awaits-them
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/seven-asylees-fly-out

As China prepares for its Communist Party Congress, what will it mean for the rest of the world?



File 20171010 10908 16oo0eh.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
This display of Chinese characters represents the Chinese leadership’s ‘Five Major Development Concepts’ ahead of the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.
Reuters/Thomas Peter

Nick Bisley, La Trobe University

Of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s many achievements in his time in office – about which much will be made in the official propaganda – one of the most surprising was the more confident and assertive approach to foreign policy that he brought about.

As the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China approaches, the five-yearly meeting of the party that signals leadership transition, what will the next five years mean for the outside world?

Intended to oversee leadership change at many levels of the party, the greatest interest is on the upper echelons of the hierarchy. Of particular interest is the make-up of seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, and the 25-member Politburo.

There is a great deal to watch out for: will Xi indicate a preferred successor? Will Li Keqiang, the current premier, be pushed out, demoted, or in some other way weakened? Will he allow Wang Qishan, his closest ally and head of the massive anti-corruption program, to stay on? Wang Qishan is now over 68, the age at which one is normally put out to pasture.

Beyond these obviously important details, the bigger question is whether Xi will adhere to the norms of the party or instead break them, potentially shattering the political system.

No one knows quite how things will play out, but seasoned analysts think it most likely Xi will bend the norms of the party to allow him to place enough supporters in key posts without completely upending the system. However events unfold, it is reasonable to expect that Xi will emerge from the NPC with his domestic hand strengthened.

Internationally, this will be the most closely watched Communist Party Congress yet. In part this is because China is now of huge importance to the rest of the world. China is the most important trading partner of more than 130 countries, it is the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, and has massive and growing military capabilities.

But interest is also strong abroad because the newly confident and at time abrasive China is having a transformative effect on Asia and indeed the world.

In his first five years, Xi confounded expectation by breaking with the cautious approach to Chinese foreign policy that had been the norm since Deng’s time. Xi moved clearly away from the “bide your time and hide your strength” dictum of the past.

But China was not entirely revisionist in its behaviour. As the Brookings Institution’s Jeff Bader rightly observes Xi’s policy involved a mix of status quo adherence to international norms, grievance and a growing confidence and leadership.

Economic growth remains a priority, and interdependence has driven a pragmatic acceptance of existing rules and institutions. Whether at the WTO, the World Bank or the UN, much of China’s international policy operates within existing norms. Interestingly, it contributes more troops to UN peacekeeping operations than any other permanent member of the Security Council.

Other elements are strongly shaped by a strong sense of grievance about an international order that is perceived to constrain China’s potential. China’s behaviour in the East and South China Sea, and claim that this has been purely a reaction to the predatory forces provoking it, is redolent of the early years of the People’s Republic.

Xi has also set out to build new norms and institutions. The most notable of these are the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Belt and Road Initiative, in which China sees itself as providing mutually beneficial international economic leadership.

After October 25, what mix of adherence to rules, grievance and leadership can we expect? Do not expect simple continuity with the past five years. The balance of probabilities is that China will take a more nationalistic path, with a strong party aiming to remake the international environment, where necessary, in ways that will help it achieve Xi’s stated desire to rejuvenate the Chinese nation.

This will not mean we can expect a concerted push for Chinese hegemony in the Western Pacific. Nor will Xi try to recreate the old Chinese tributary system. Rather, we can expect the odd combination of grievance and more confident leadership that produced the South China Sea policy and the Belt and Road Initiative to become more pronounced features of Chinese foreign policy.

While norm adherence will continue, there is likely to be a greater willingness to break with these norms if they conflict with the larger aims.

The ConversationThis Chinese posture, when combined with the trade, finance and strategic trends drawing Asia closer together, is likely to create a China-centred Asian regional order, but one that will not be Sino-centric. Xi’s next five years will make contestation the main feature of Asia’s international politics.

Nick Bisley, Executive Director of La Trobe Asia and Professor of International Relations, La Trobe University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Vietnam: Persecution News Update


The link below is to an article reporting on persecution news from Vietnam.

For more visit:
http://www.rfa.org/english/news/vietnam/church-09052017155915.html

China: Persecution News Update


The links below are to articles reporting on persecution news from China (the most recent are at the top).

For more visit:
http://www.chinaaid.org/2017/09/jiangsu-authorities-invoke-fear-with.html
http://www.chinaaid.org/2017/09/pastor-detained-for-traveling-to.html
http://www.christiantimes.com/article/chinese-christians-meet-in-smaller-groups-to-avoid-government-crackdown-on-churches/72838.htm
http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Wang-Zuoan:-foreign-religions-are-%E2%80%9Cinfiltrating%E2%80%9D-and-threatening-China-41757.html
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/china-tightens-regulation-of-religion-to–block-extremism–9195258