Students set to bring: Motion to mandate the Union to investigate Chinese Gov influence

Our members are bringing this crucial motion to council and we implore everyone to read the article and support it however possible. Proposed by Stephen Dawes and seconded by Alexander Wang-Evans, Lewis Telford, Katie Jane-Bennetto, William Hayes, Alex Walker, Elias Al Dahan.

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Ordinary Motion: Motion to “mandate the Sabbatical Officers to investigate Newcastle University’s hiring practices and for the creation of the NUSU modern slavery policy”

Students’ Council Notes

  1. The Chinese state, controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, are committing what has been called a “Genocide” against the Uighur Muslim minority in the Western Provinces (xinjiang Province, East Turkistan) of China1,2,3
  2. Newcastle University has Academics who study the Uighur Muslim minority, notably Dr Jo Smith Finley4
  3. The Chinese state has sanctioned a number of individuals in our country over for being “vocal critics of China in the UK” including Dr Jo Smith Finley4
  4. These sanctions mean that “they will all be banned from entering China, Hong Kong and Macau, their property in China will be frozen and Chinese citizens and institutions will be prohibited from doing business with them.”4,5
  5. Newcastle University as a UK University is subject to UK Employment Law
  6. Newcastle University plays host to a Confucius Institute (CI), the largest in the North of England.6
  7. Confucius Institute units are according to Li Changchun's comment (a retired Chinese politician and a former senior leader of the Communist Party of China, who served on the Politburo Standing Committee, the Communist Party's top leadership council, and as the top official in charge of propaganda, between 2002 and 20127) that Confucius Institutes are "an important part of China's overseas propaganda set-up" 8, 9.
  8. Several Universities have decided to terminate their CI contracts. Some of these include Japan's Osaka Sangyo University in 2010; Canada's McMaster University and Université de Sherbrooke, and France's University of Lyon in 2013; the University of Chicago, Pennsylvania State University, and the Toronto District School Board in 2014, the German Stuttgart Media University and University of Hohenheim in 2015, and Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2019. 10, 11, 12,13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
  9. There are concerns that hosting a Confucius Institute could limit events or activities critical of China34.
  10. CI Units are Head Quartered in the Hanban Agency (renamed to Office of Chinese Language Council International)
  11. Hanban has been described as a Chinese government Agency20
  12. The Hanban website stated that CI Chinese language instructors should be "aged between 22 to 60, be physically and mentally healthy, no record of participation in Falun Gong and other illegal organizations, and no criminal record."21 
  13. Falun Gong is a religious movement in China22, 23 that has been illegalised by the ruling party.
  14. It is illegal under UK law to have discriminatory hiring practices concerning religious beliefs.24
  15. After a prominent Canadian documentary exposed this Hanban updated some of its contracts. But while the provision regarding Falun Gong was removed from Hanban’s English website, (According to  a US Senate report titled CHINA’S IMPACT ON THE U.S. EDUCATION SYSTEM STAFF REPORT PERMANENT SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS UNITED STATES SENATE) the intent to exclude applicants based on religious or political affiliation remains. For example, the Chinese language application on the current Hanban application website for volunteer teachers contains new criteria requiring that an applicant have “moral integrity, no record of participation in cults and other illegal organizations, no criminal record.” While the explicit reference to “Falun Gong” was removed amidst charges of religious discrimination, the vague references to “illegal organization records,” and “cults” remain.30 The older description is still available to view on The Way Back Machine11
  16. Human rights lawyer Clive Ansley has argued that the part of the hiring policy that discriminates against Falun Gong believers is in contravention of anti-discrimination laws and human rights codes.25
  17. Marci Hamilton, Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at Yeshiva University, called this policy "unethical and illegal in the free world."26
  18. In 2013, McMaster University in Canada closed its Confucius Institute due to these exact hiring issues over Falun Gong.27
  19. There are no known instances where the contracts between the “foreign institution”, Hanban, and the partner institution were made public without intervention. This prevents anyone knowing whether these contracts make provision for hiring practices to remain consistent with those that adhere to UK law or University policy.30
  20. One such contract was obtained by a US Senate hearing and it contained several references to questionable vetting and monitoring practices employed by the Chinese government:30, 33

a.The contract states that the Chinese instructor should “report to the overseas work unit and/or Chinese Embassy/Consulate within one month of arrival.

b.The contract states that the Chinese instructor “should conscientiously safeguard national interests.” 

c.The contract states that the Chinese instructor must not “participate in illegal organizations,” but at the same time “should respect the culture and customs of the overseas country s/he is dispatched to and foster friendship with local people.”

d.The contract requires that the Chinese school that the Chinese instructor is affiliated with must maintain the Chinese instructor’s “personal profiles, archival information as well as party affiliation.”

e.The contract terminates if the Chinese instructors “violate Chinese laws” or “engage in activities detrimental to national interests; participate in illegal organizations and engage in activities against local religions and customs, hence causing bad influences.”

f.The contract also terminates if Chinese instructors “refuse to follow the rules and regulations of the overseas work unit, Chinese Embassy, and Consulates and Confucius Institute Headquarters/Hanban.”

g.The contract states that the Chinese instructor “agrees to abide by the relevant regulations regarding overseas dispatched teachers by Confucius Institute Headquarters/Hanban, which may not be listed in the full Agreement.”30

  1. The National Association of Scholars continues to call on all universities to close their Confucius Institutes.35
  2. Chinese Confucius Institute officials were seen confiscating papers which mention Taiwan at a conference and may have had a hand in organising opposition to Hong kong demonstrations on UK campuses 2 years ago36.
  3. NUSU has no “Modern Slavery Policy” on its website.
  4. Slavery has been used by the Chinese state and affiliated “private” companies28, 29 Especially used for the production and picking of cotton.31
  5. NUSU and Newcastle University both retail merchandise that contains cotton and other materials that could be sourced from China.
  6. There has reportedly been an anti-Asian hate crime in Newcastle recently.32
  7. The government of the Peoples Republic of China is not the same as the people of China.
  8. Probably one of the greatest abusers of Asian peoples in the world is the government of the Peoples Republic of China, if slavery, cultural destruction, forced relocation, and concentration camps count as abuse.

Students’ Union Council Beliefs

  1. Modern slavery is immoral, and we ought to have a modern slavery policy that if followed will prevent NUSU partaking in its proceeds directly or indirectly.
  2. Religious discrimination is highly immoral and illegal, and we have a moral duty to hold the university to account regarding its affiliations, staff hiring policies and affiliated staff hiring policies.
  3. A free academia and free speech are of paramount importance in the universities mission to discover higher knowledge, understanding, and truth. 
  4. Violation of the freedoms of movement and speech of those seeking that truth and speaking out on behalf of the victims of a genocide are abhorrent.
  5. The illiberal influence of foreign powers on the British university system must be resisted if we wish to retain a free academia. 
  6. That we must be mindful of recent events concerning hate crimes towards people of Asian descent and act with the utmost care not to conflate the actions of a government with individuals of any race or creed.
  7. The condemnation of Dr Jo Smith Finley by the Chinese state was wrong.

Students’ Union Council Resolves

  1. For NUSU to link to the NUSU Modern Slavery Statement at the bottom of the NUSU website (and to write one if one does not already exist).
  2. For the Union to immediately condemn the sanctions placed on Dr Jo Smith Finley and others by the Chinese state, in a press release and online.
  3. To mandate the sabbatical officers to submit a comprehensive freedom of information request to Newcastle University regarding all knowledge on the hiring practices of the Confucius Institute at Newcastle University. 
    1. Specifically, ask for the University to publish the contracts between Hanban, Newcastle University and our partner institution Xiamen University? 
    2. Secondly, does Newcastle University know whether or not if it is a contractual requirement of CI staff to obey Chinese law while in the UK? 
    3. Thirdly, are there any non-disclosure agreements with Hanban or Xiamen University or any parts of the contract that limit the press releases of Newcastle University in any way?
    4. Fourthly, what are the termination provisions of the contract, do they require Newcastle University to assume all costs of the program if terminated before the contracts end date? 
    5. Does Newcastle University know the hiring processes used by Hanban to recruit Chinese Directors and Teachers into our CI in China? 
    6. What safeguarding measures has the university has taken to avoid religious or other discrimination of potential staff members applying to join the CI? 
    7. Is Newcastle University privy to the contracts or agreements between Hanban and Xiamen University and their Chinese instructors and directors? If not then are Newcastle University officials, therefore, not in a position to understand if Hanban’s hiring procedures or practices are consistent with their own staff hiring and UK law?

To by the end of May 2021 and to publish and publicise the University’s unredacted response online when received.

  1. To mandate the Sabbatical officers to lobby the university to publicly recognise the ongoing genocide of the Uyghur Muslim minority in the People’s Republic of China.
  2. To do all of the above in a manner that does not conflate the government of the Peoples Republic of China with the people of China or anyone of East Asian or Asian ancestry.  



  22. Junker, Andrew. 2019. Becoming Activists in Global China: Social Movements in the Chinese Diaspora, pp. 23–24, 33, 119, 207. Cambridge University Press.
  23. Hexham, Irving. 2009. Pocket Dictionary of New Religious Movements, pp. 49, 71. InterVarsity Press.
  30.'s%20Impact%20on%20the%20US%20Education%20System.pdf(Page 38 onwards)


Proposed By

Stephen Dawes


Seconded by

Alexander Wang-Evans, Lewis Telford, Katie-Jane Bennetto, William Hayes, Alex Walker, Elias Al Dahan


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