University College Cork (UCC) is considering deepening its relationship with Minzu University (MUC), a Chinese University heavily affiliated with the Chinese communist party.
The university has a reputation for educating students from ethnic minorities who often graduate to become communist party officials.
“An application for an additional joint programme in Law [between UCC and MUC] has been submitted to the Chinese Ministry of Education,” UCC spokesperson Joe Leoguh said.
“Universities with three or more joint programmes can create ‘a joint college’, which is a common academic feature of transnational education involving China” he added.
UCC and Munzu already have one joint programme in environmental science. Staff from UCC teach the course at MUC before the Chinese University’s students travel to Cork for their third year of study.
Minzu’s curriculum is heavily focused on ethnic studies, and a large population of their student body comes from non-Han Chinese backgrounds.
Many of these minorities are from the Uighurs ethnic group in Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has set up internment camps, dubbed “re-education camps”, for Uighurs people who are held without trial or charges.
Human Rights Watch said the camps are operated outside of the law as part of an anti-terrorism scheme to incarcerate and indoctrinate the Muslim minority.
Many of the students are also from the Tibet region, where there have been ongoing and widely reported human rights violations of religious minorities by the communist party.
UCC is now considering making a joint college application with Minzu to the Chinese ministry of education, which would see UCC lead degrees in science, engineering, food science, and law at Minzu’s new campus in Hainan province.
UCD associate professor in their school of politics and international relations told the Irish Times that the move raises “huge ethical issues.”
“I think it’s difficult to justify deepening co-operation with a university focusing on ethnic issues overseen by the very same party that is simultaneously putting ethnic minorities in re-education camps in vast numbers in Xinjiang or systematically suppressing Tibetan culture,” the professor told the Irish Times.
In April, MUC sent 10,000 face masks to front line health care workers in Cork through UCC, including Cork Univercity Hospital.
UCC alumni living in China also made several donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) to Cork’s hospitals.
In March, UCC sent each MUC graduates a facemask along with their parchment. Many of last years MUC graduates planned to travel to Cork for their conferrings, but had to cancel due to the pandemic.
UCC did not comment on MUC’s highly controversial status.
Devin Sean Martin
Image credit: Omkar Kulkarni Unsplash