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London’s Queen Mary University in Partnership With China to Teach Maoism and Military Theory

Published: February 9, 2022
(Image: Ewan Munro/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Sellainne Cathry

Recently the Telegraph reported that Queen Mary University in London has been running compulsory Chinese Military training, Chinese military theory and the communist ideology of Mao Zedong through undergraduate degree courses with the Northwest China Polytechnic University (NWPU) in Xi’an, China. 

 The US Department of Justice described NWPU as a “Chinese military university that is heavily involved in military research and works closely with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on the advancement of military capabilities.” 

The NWPU remains blacklisted in the US after being placed on its Entity List in 2001. The list was set up in 1997 to inform the public of entities involved in spreading weapons of mass destruction. Later the list expanded to include activities against US national security and foreign policy interests. 

Despite this, the Maoist undergraduate courses are carried out at Queen Mary University with the NWPU. The courses accept around 250 Chinese students each year, with the admission process controlled solely by China’s NWPU. 

The programmes teach English, Maths, Materials Science, Engineering, and the compulsory Chinese Military training, Chinese military theory, and Maoist ideology.

This alarming education plan is no secret; it can be seen online on Queen Mary University’s website, written in English and Chinese. The education plan offers a detailed explanation of the “ideological education”, a compulsory requirement as part of the course, promoting “socialist core values and patriotism.”

China’s Northwestern Polytechnical University (NWPU) in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province. (Image: 星巴克女王/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Maoist course linked to China’s social credit system

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has imposed a social credit scoring system that allows it to monitor, control and shape the behaviour of Chinese citizens. People’s behaviour is constantly tracked and graded, so “good” or “bad” means a move up or down in social credit points. More points mean better jobs, good schools for children, the ability to travel or even buy food. The CCP has expanded this system to include education and the “Maoist Undergraduate Courses” in its points system. 

The study of military training and theory awards a student two points, and the study of Maoist ideology earns a student five points. The Maoist thought training eulogises the ideals of Mao Zedong as the continuous way forward for China.

Mao was the founding leader of Communist China, having led the Party to overthrow the Chinese republican government in 1949. He presided over multiple deadly and traumatising political campaigns, among them the Great Leap Forward — which resulted in mass famine — and the Cultural Revolution, a decade of chaos during which the communists repudiated traditional Chinese culture and attempted to destroy nearly everything associated with the “old society.” 

The CCP continues to venerate Mao, and the regime still persecutes political dissent and religious faith as running counter to its atheist Marxism. 

Researcher Isabel Sawkins at the Henry Jackson Society, a foreign affairs think-tank in London, said: “This is plainly brazen collaboration for a UK university to enter into…it is shocking that Queen Mary, which is obliged to promote academic freedom, allowed this to happen and it must now urgently investigate this matter.”

Ongoing connections with Chinese military

In November 2019, the Guardian reported that the UK was singled out by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) as having “unprecedented levels of collaboration with Chinese military companies,” along with ten UK top university’s labs “being run jointly by Chinese Defence companies.” 

Alex Joske, the author of the ASPI report, told the Guardian, “Something that really alarmed me was the level of collaboration with Chinese missile scientists, I haven’t seen anything like Chinese missile manufacturers setting up these joint labs in other countries.” Joske said his analysis revealed how “some of the collaborations that universities are engaged in with China are almost certainly harmful for national security and contributing to things I don’t think the taxpayer would approve of.”

A UK Foreign Affairs Committee report revealed “alarming evidence” of CCP interference on UK university campuses in the same month. The report warned that “universities are not adequately responding to the growing risk of China and other autocracies influencing academic freedom in the UK,” reported the Guardian. 

Queen Mary University defended its courses, quoting British government legislation and the university’s alignment with it to the Telegraph: “We are proud of our transnational educational partnership with Northwestern Polytechnical University, which is part of our wider international partnership programme across the globe. All Queen Mary’s partnership agreements are constructed in full alignment with UK government legislation and subject to rigorous procedures regarding security, ethics and other relevant policies. Our partnership with NWPU is no exception,” said its spokesperson.