We have seen the gradual dependence of the United States on China, which holds a huge amount of our debt. The result has been foreign policies designed to appease the Chinese government, including near silence on human rights abuses by that country. Now, academia has its own scandal of kowtowing to the Chinese, which have become equally dominant in research and education. Schools like Georgetown and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have said virtually nothing after their faculty were barred from entering China or flying on Chinese airlines due to objections to their writings. They are called the “Xinjiang 13” and their virtual abandonment by leading universities shows how academic freedom values have been sacrificed to maintain our dependence on Chinese funding.
The professors contributed to “Xinjiang: China’s Muslim Borderland,” a 484-page paperback published in 2004. China responded with sanctions imposed by its security services — sanctions designed to retard the careers of these experts. Rather than protesting the obvious retaliation for free speech and thought, the schools have sought to appease the Chinese. Dartmouth reportedly even tried to fire one of the scholars because he couldn’t go to China.
Universities are now dependent on tuition from Chinese students, new programs in China, and research support. The blacklist includes some of the world’s leading Chinese experts. Yet, college and universities presidents are terrified of crossing the Chinese in defending their faculty. The result is that they have acquiesced to this attack on academic freedom.
Our universities have brought new meaning to the exchange between Lady Astor and Winston Churchill:
“Would you sleep with me for a million pounds?” Churchill asks.
“A million pounds?” says Lady Astor. “I’d have to think about it first but, in all likelihood, yes.”
“How about for a six-pence?”
“Why I never!” Lady Astor huffs. “What do you take me for?”
“That, my dear,” says Sir Winston, “has been established. We are just negotiating price.”