A former diplomat from communist China who defected to Australia and exposed the dangers posed by Beijing has warned that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) controls Chinese students studying in Scottish universities.
The whistleblower, Chen Yonglin, said in an interview with The Ferret that the CCP uses the Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSA). With a presence in several Scottish universities, the CSSA monitors and exerts tight control over Chinese students.
Chen said that Chinese embassies and consulates installed the CSSA branches.
“If they mix with the locals too much and if these students accept the western way of democracy, if these students return to China, the society might be changed. There’s a huge number of students who study in the UK, so that’s why the Chinese government spends lots of money in continuing spiritual control over the students,” he told The Ferret.
Yonglin used to be secretary of China’s consulate in Sydney until 2005 when he defected to Australia. At the time, Yonglin informed authorities that the Sydney consulate had a working group dedicated to countering and monitoring Falun Gong adherents and their supporters in Australia.
The team used to collect names of such ‘threats,’ including photos and car plates, and then send them back to Beijing to be reviewed by local police departments, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of State Security.
One way the CCP uses Chinese students through the CSSA is by making them informants of Falun Gong activities on campuses. Yonglin said that these students are mainly brainwashed by communist ideology and are oblivious to the party’s criminal history.
Chinese students uninformed
For example, these students have no idea about the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre. Being raised under the CCP’s rule, they often regard Falun Gong practitioners with suspicion and consider it their ‘duty’ to inform such activities to the communist regime’s authorities.
An example of such harassment is Karen Lam, originally from Shanghai and presently living in Glasgow. One day, she handed out pamphlets about Falun Gong and collected petitions to end the persecution. Two Chinese students approached her and asked everyone not to sign the petitions.
The pro-CCP students shouted at her, kicked her table, accused her of not having a sense of shame, and reported her to the Chinese Embassy. Even Lam’s family back in communist China was intimidated by authorities. Yonglin called Lam’s story an example of the communist Chinese government making students do their “dirty work.”
Yonglin’s expose comes while communist China attempts to silence British academics. Beijing recently sanctioned Dr. Jo Smith Finley, an academic from Newcastle University, accusing her of spreading “lies and disinformation.”
Finley’s work focuses on the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang who have been under intense persecution by the communist regime. In retaliation, hundreds of scholars worldwide signed a letter stating that Beijing’s censorship of Finley is a “serious escalation” of communist China’s attack on academic freedoms.
“Since 2014, I have watched in horror the policy changes that led to an atmosphere of intimidation and terror across China’s peripheries, affecting first Tibet and Xinjiang and now also Hong Kong and Inner Mongolia…”
“In Xinjiang, the situation has reached crisis point, with many scholars, activists, and legal observers concluding that we are seeing the perpetration of crimes against humanity and the beginnings of a slow genocide… I have no regrets for speaking out and I will not be silenced,” Finley told BBC.