China and Academic Freedom

With the rising economic power of China, many American universities are eager to create partnerships with Chinese schools to share ideas. It turns out that doesn’t always work so well; China is, after all, still a communist dictatorship.

According to a piece by Oliver Staley and Daniel Golden at Bloomberg:

In the 25 years Johns Hopkins University and Nanjing University have run a joint campus in China, it’s never published an academic journal. When American student Brendon Stewart tried last year, he found out why.

Intended to showcase the best work by Chinese and American students and faculty to a far-flung audience, Stewart’s journal broke the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s rules that confine academic freedom to the classroom. Administrators prevented the journal from circulating outside campus, and a student was pressured to withdraw an article about Chinese protest movements.

This is apparently a common problem. Students at these American-Chinese hybrid universities are free often to discuss whatever they want within the classroom but academic freedom is pretty severely limited when it comes to sharing information with the rest of the country or discussing some of the troublesome aspects of Chinese history.

About a dozen American schools have campuses in China. Chinese students are very lucrative because the Chinese government often pays full tuition for such students.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer