Cambridge, Peking university partnership to help shape China’s ‘pilot of socialism’
The world’s third-best university and Asia’s second-best university are teaming up to shape the business world of tomorrow and expand their reach with a new business school partnership.
Cambridge University and Peking University are in talks to launch a business school partnership in southern China. The new project will build on their current relationship which saw the opening of a UK-based China Centre at Cambridge’s Jesus College.
While the details of the collaboration are still unclear, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Cambridge, Mark Welland, and Director of Cambridge’s Judge Business School (CJBS), Christopher Loch, visited Peking University’s business school in Shenzhen last week for talks with university officials and city mayor Chen Rugui.
According to the Telegraph, the partnership will focus on “executive education and an initiative to support and encourage current PHBS (Peking University HSBC Business School) students to apply to CJBS for their post-graduate education.”
“Although the university is keen to explore possibilities for wider collaboration with Peking University, this proposal does not involve the creation of a school or campus in Shenzhen,” a spokesperson for Cambridge University told the news outlet.
Based in the Qianhai special economic zone, the collaboration will be perfectly in line with the Chinese government’s plan to make Shenzhen a model municipality, powered by high-class academia.
The South China Morning Post quotes the government plan as turning the area into a “pilot demonstration area of socialism with Chinese characteristics” by 2035. This would involve “the autonomy of higher education institutions” and accelerating “the establishment of first-class universities and first-class disciplines.”
The announcement comes at a time of increased scrutiny on academic collaborations with China. After a spate of warnings from a number of national security agencies, including the US, UK, and Australia, universities are having to be careful about the type of partnerships they strike.
There has been increasing concern from security agencies that rogue governments are using the connections to steal intellectual property and spread their own propaganda within institutions.
One method of suspected infiltration is the Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes. The learning facilities teach Chinese language and culture and are a crucial tool in China’s soft power mission, but concerns about academic freedom and the institutes’ close links to the United Front – the secretive arm of the CCP that tries to promote the party’s policies oversea – has led universities to think twice about their association with the organisation.
Beijing, however, is pouring money into its higher education and encouraging collaboration with funding and grants. The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is using international university partnerships to cement its regional and global position, making higher education a jumping-off point not just for research collaboration but also for city to city and industrial partnerships.
China became Australia’s number one research partner for the first time this year, beating out traditional partners America and the UK.
In June, the British Council and China’s Ministry of Education launched the UK-China-Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Countries Education Partnership Initiative. The new initiative will offer seed-funding to six partnerships between the UK, China and countries along the Belt and Road. In total, 28 universities across 12 countries will benefit from the funding, which will support education collaboration in areas including dental healthcare, food safety, intelligent manufacturing, renewable energy and global leadership.