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Do Not Make Academic Exchanges Between China and Other Countries Wither
2020-10-22 00:56

Cultural diversity and the progress of civilization are driven by exchanges and mutual learning. When one observes the scientific and technological advances of humanity over the long course of history, countries' technological and societal advances depend on learning from one another. The trade caravans on the ancient silk road carry with them knowledge on China's scientific innovations such as gunpowder, medicine, printing, astronomy, mapping, and others. Western astronomy, mathematics, geology, physics and other technologies are also introduced into China, significantly promoting the social progress of both sides. In modern times, academic exchanges are more frequent and in-depth. Giving the example of China-Belgium agriculture cooperation, the introduction of the potato late blight forecast model in China's central and western regions helped effectively bring under control the local late blight disease. Chinese scientists revised and digitalized the model, developed a monitor and forecast system to be brought back into Belgium, and its application was further extended to India, Nepal and other countries. The project has continued till this day, creating economic and social benefits and becoming a paradigm of academic and scientific exchanges between China and Belgium.

However, recently there have been undercurrents against the tide. Some politicians, think tanks and media have labeled Chinese overseas students and researchers "spies" and "threats" out of ideological prejudices, attempting to thwart academic exchanges between China and other countries. Such are regressive practices which overstretch the concept of "national security", politicize normal academic exchanges, and run counter to common sense and reason. The article published by Science Business on October 15th under the title "Universities wrestle with question of how open to be with China" rightly pointed out that "academic relations with China are becoming more politicized" and "political pushback on China risks doing harm to academic freedom and choice".

China, on the contrary, has been actively engaged in academic exchanges with international research partners in an open spirit over the past decades. China opened its door to close to 400 thousand students from 202 countries and regions in 2019, and welcomed them in its universities, research institutes and other education agencies. The number of overseas university students nearly doubled compared with a decade ago. A variety of international research projects and partnerships have provided strong support for academic exchanges and cooperation between China and other countries. The American Center, British Council, Cervantes Institute, Goethe-Institut, and other European cultural and language centers have set up operations in major Chinese cities. Booming cross-cultural and academic exchanges dominate the scene in China.

Chinese overseas students, researchers, and Chinese research agencies taking part in international projects have followed regular and legal channels, and their background and identities are duly verified by foreign universities and research institutes. Confucius Institutes, established upon application of foreign universities and other education institutes that voluntarily partner up with Chinese universities in keeping with the principle of "mutual respect, friendly consultation, equality and mutual benefits", are administered in an open and transparent way strictly in conformity with local laws and regulations. These are regular cultural and academic exchanges conducive to mutual learning and common progress.

It is our belief that exchanges between different countries serve the common interests of all sides and should be conducted on the basis of equality, mutual respect and mutual trust. It is hoped that related parties will take on a mentality of cooperation for mutual benefits, view pragmatic cooperation between China and other countries across various areas in a fair and objective light, and do more that helps to promote cultural exchanges and social progress across different societies. (by the spokesperson of the Embassy of China in Belgium)

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