AMO organized a closed-door roundtable with the representatives of Czech public universities on the issue of Chinese influence in the Czech academy on March 9, 2020 at the Faculty of Social Science, Charles University, Prague. The event was a first of its kind in the Czech Republic.
The issue of China’s authoritarian influence in the academic institutions of the democratic countries and the negative impacts on the academic freedom has already become a widely debated issue in countries such as Australia and the United States, but also the EU. However, this topic had for a long time not entered the public debate in the Czech Republic. The situation has changed with the revelation of the secret funding of the Chinese Embassy for the activities of (now former) academics at the Czech Republic’ most prestigious public educational institution, Charles University in Prague.
While the scandal has brought much needed attention to the issue, a proper response needs a comprehensive approach that tackles all the associated issues. The goal should be to create mature internal mechanisms for the universities to ensure transparency of funding and prevent attempts to constrain the academic freedom while maintaining the strategic autonomy of universities and ensuring welcoming environment for the growing number of Chinese students. While the main responsibility should rest with the academic institutions themselves, support of government will be necessary, such as in providing alternative sources of research funding to prevent dependencies on China.
At the roundtable, ChinfluenCE coordinator Ivana Karásková presented her policy paper (in Czech) on the issue.