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Canada’s University of Calgary becomes latest victim of China’s political “punishment”

Posted by Author on February 6, 2010

By Aileen McCabe, Canwest News Service, Canada, Feb. 6, 2010-

Honourary degree for Dalai Lama last fall precedes removal from education ministry’s list of recommended universities

China has made a habit recently of “punishing” many of the people, institutions and nations that cross it on the Tibet issue, and the University of Calgary appears to be the latest victim.

A call Friday to the Hotline for Overseas Studies Service Centre in Beijing asking for information about attending the Canadian university elicited the following advice: “If you don’t already go to that school yet, it is better not to go because you will face risks.”

The operator told a Chineselanguage inquirer that if she was already at the University of Calgary, her degree would be certified by the Chinese Ministry of Education, but warned, “the policy might change” in years to come.

Without fanfare, the University of Calgary was dropped in December from the Chinese Ministry of Education’s list of recommended universities for Chinese students going abroad to study.

The operator said the hotline recommends Chinese students choose their university only from among those on the list.

The inquiry was obviously not the first of the day, either. When the operator was asked about University of Calgary, she could be heard saying to someone nearby: “It’s another phone call about the University of Calgary.”

Although no one will say officially that Beijing has blocked Chinese students from going to University of Calgary because the school awarded the Dalai Lama an honourary degree last fall, it seems plausible that is the reason.

Asked why Beijing blacklisted the university, a spokeswoman at the Chinese Consulate in Calgary told the Calgary Herald simply that the university “should know.”

It may seem a petty move by the world’s nascent superpower, but delisting will be costly for the university. China currently has the largest pool of foreign students looking to study abroad and universities around the world are competing to attract them. Little wonder. The 178,000 foreign students in Canada spent $6.5 billion in 2008, according to Canadian government figures. That’s an average of more than $36,000 each for the 600 Chinese students at the University of Calgary this year.

Repeatedly in recent years, Beijing has launched retaliatory action in its uphill battle to convince the world the Dalai Lama is a dangerous separatist intent on dividing China, not a Tibetan holy man.

Last fall, it even appeared to shoot itself in the foot when it slowed down its push for closer relations with Taiwan, cancelling or postponing several rounds of official discussions, because the Nobel Peace Prize winner had been invited to pay a visit to the prosperous island that has been estranged from the Mainland since 1949. His visit came in the wake of Typhoon Morakot that left 700 dead in southern Taiwan and the Dalai Lama was invited in his role as spiritual leader to comfort the island’s predominantly Buddhist population……. (more details from Vancouver Sun)

One Response to “Canada’s University of Calgary becomes latest victim of China’s political “punishment””

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