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Yangyang Cheng @yangyang_cheng
, 14 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
1/N This year's US-China Forum @UChicago was hosted by @BeckerFriedman w/ theme "China's role in the global economy". I was glad to attend it at my alma mater, but am very disappointed by the glaring omission of human rights from the convo,& deeply troubled by CUSEF's role in it.
2/N CUSEF, China-US Exchange Foundation, is a registered foreign agent in US with deep ties to the Chinese Communist Party's overseas influence operation i.e. the united front. In Jan 2018, UT-Austin rejected CUSEF funding over concerns of academic freedom…
3/N According to @BeckerFriedman leadership, CUSEF's role in #USChinaForum2018 was not only funding, but very much part of the intellectual process, incl. "suggesting and facilitating speakers from China". CUSEF spent over $1m lobbying Congress in '16&'17:…
4/N #USChinaForum2018 featured well-known scholars, businessmen, & policy makers, almost all men. They offered differing views on subjects discussed, but it is important topics that were *completely missing* from both days, all 7 panels that speak volumes about the focus & scope.
5/N Tom Pritzker talked about Hyatt in China & his interest in #Tibet, but how Chinese gov pressured Marriott by suspending its Chinese websites to follow its territorial claims in customer survey, and how Marriot fired its US employee over liking a pro-Tibet tweet never came up.
6/N What's remarkable about Marriott & similar incidents e.g. airlines was not Chinese gov's #OrwellianNonsense in pushing global jurisdiction of its laws, but how quickly private companies caved. No one called the bully out on its bluff & stood up for basic principles of freedom
7/N A panel was dedicated to effect of Chinese investment on recipient countries. No one talked about how reliance on Chinese money constrains another country's ability to stand up to China's human rights abuses, even when in case of Pakistan the issue bleeds across the border.
8/N A lot of time was spent on Belt&Road Initiative, but no one talked about the ongoing ethnic cleansing in #Xinjiang, despite acknowledging the region being key. Only attention was on the money & commerce that move through the land, not the million plus in concentration camps.
9/N I've often been gripped with despair at the thought of #Xinjiang, not only what the Chinese gov is doing, but that it might get away with it. Ppl say how there's no leverage over China, but no one asks how China's role in global economy should be conditioned on its behavior.
10/N The acting consul general of China in Chicago gave opening remarks for 2nd day. When the stage of a university is given to a representative of an authoritarian government carte blanche, with no questions, follow-ups, or rebuttal, it is not academic exchange; it's propaganda.
11/N I don't know full extent of CUSEF's role in #USChinaForum2018. I believe many @UChicago acted out of good faith but naivete. Xinhua covered the forum. An academic forum became a propaganda coup for an authoritarian gov conducting some of the worst human rights atrocities.
12/N #USChinaForum2018 came on the heels of news that Cornell ended its partnership w/ Renmin Univ in China over Chinese gov's crackdown on student activism for labor rights. Labor conditions or workers' rights were also never discussed at the two days of forum on Chinese economy
13/N Soon @UChicago will open a new campus in HK, while art shows are cancelled and books banned and bookstores closed in HK as Chinese gov tightens its ideological control. Academic exchange is vital, but must be conditioned on freedom and independence from political influence.
14/14 @UChicago prides itself as "Chicago School of Free Speech", & I received the education of a lifetime there. My alma mater, any school or institution, must critically rethink its engagement w/ China. What's at stake is not only academic freedom, but inalienable human rights.
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