London: A row has broken out at Cambridge University over a 3.7 million pounds donation by a Chinese foundation, amid fears it is linked to the Chinese government.
The new professorship of Chinese development will be established on March 1, funded by the Chong Hua Educational Foundation, to link research and teaching on the subject from across various university departments.
But a senior academic has expressed concern about the donation, at a time when links between universities and wealthy donors are under scrutiny following criticism of the
London School of Economics for taking Libyan funds.
Tarak Barkawi, a senior lecturer in war studies at the prestigious university's Department of Politics and International Studies, told the Daily Telegraph that
Cambridge's behaviour was "reckless and simply not good enough".
"Who is this Chong Hua Foundation that is giving us all this money? Where is the website? Who sits on its board? Does it have links to the Chinese government? These are all basic questions that need to be answered," he said.
"The lack of transparency, clarity and debate regarding the links between the Chong Hua Foundation and the regime is of very serious concern and raises basic questions about the relationship between donors and universities."
Another unnamed faculty member also criticised the donation.
However, a spokesman for Cambridge University rejected the criticism and said the row had been "whipped up by two embittered academics".
The university's website says the foundation is "focused on advancing education for the benefit of the People's Republic of China", and the spokesman said a thorough investigation had found "no connection to the government".
"It's a philanthropic gift for advancing education about China. They're wealthy Chinese individuals and it's perfectly common that benefactors ask to remain anonymous," he said.
"There is no influence whatsoever on decisions about what
the post should research, teach or anything like that. We
retain full integrity and independence."
First Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 21:16