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Mike Gow 高英智
+ Your AuthorsArchive @mikeygow Lecturer (Asst Prof) in Bus Mgt @EHU_Business Consumerism, Citizenship & Identity in Xi Jinping’s China. Father 父亲 Husband 丈夫 Brother 兄弟 Son 儿子 #Everton #Celtic Aug. 09, 2021 3 min read

Report by @He_Shumei for @bacs_china on the #HK #NSL and #UK #HE and #academicfreedom 

At the risk of “sealioning” here - with regard to the broader discussion on #HK #NSL and academic freedom in various settings - some questions.

Firstly of research, then on teaching

How does #NSL increase the risk to UK-based research activities for China Studies scholars broadly defined?

Undoubtedly, this is a different question for faculty from HK, with strong ties to HK, or who study and research HK.

But for scholars from PRC or with interests in Mainland China - any risks already existed.

With teaching, I’m not convinced that the #NSL markedly impacts academic freedom in the classroom.

The argument is that certain topics might be more sensitive, with a negative impact on both faculty and students.

Again, for students from #HK, there will be a great deal of stress and anxiety. For many Mainland PRC students, those anxieties have always been there.

There’s then the issue of PRC/HK student relations. One example provided in this report is the Sheffield uni student harassing/assaulting a HK student. Actually in a foundation programme (if memory serves), but this was in 2019. So an issue pre-dating the NSL?

The NSL - as far as I can see (and I’m completely willing to be persuaded otherwise) only represents a heightened risk for certain faculty and students.

It *extends* the extensive challenges faced by UK-based Chinese academics and China Studies scholars to those from or studying HK

But can anyone explain how or why it constitutes more than an expansion in scope?

(Note here, I’m discussing specifically the impact of NSL on academia *outside* HK - where it quite clearly has completely destroyed academic freedom in HK unis and freedom of speech/assembly beyond campus)

I also can’t help thinking back to the accusations of self-censorship levelled (indiscriminately) at China scholars over the last few years.

Yet we’re not (thankfully) seeing similar discussions around potential self-censorship to secure access or remain safe in HK?

I agree with many of the recommendations made here (slight issue with no.1), though not sure how any are specific to the NSL.

They would all have been good recommendation prior to the introduction to the NSL, yet no more urgent due to the introduction on the NSL (IMHO).

I’m posting these thoughts on this issue in the hope that it leads to some discussion, dialogue and clarification.

As I say, I’m ready to be persuaded that NSL - as is claimed - extends Beijing’s influence in UK HE. But does it?

What the NSL undoubtedly *does* do, is massively increase that risks to HKers in UK HE.

But does that risk equate to or exceed that experienced by our faculty and students from Mainland China? I’m not sure it does

Yet we haven’t seen concerns for PRC scholars and students framed in a similar way.

Prior to NSL, most discourse on students from the Mainland has been about mitigating their influence and the perceived threat they pose to UK HE

I think alongside clear and meaningful codes of conduct, and policies recommended here - we need to do a much better job building connected, respectful and engaged academic communities- not something easily achieve with policies, but via person-to-person interaction

And crucially, this needs to happen beyond the narrow enclave of area studies and politics/IR departments where - let’s be frank - the vast majority of students from China, HK do not study.

You can follow @mikeygow.


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