The Chinese government has been accused of attempting to ‘buy’ influence at Australian universities by sponsoring libraries and channeling funds for institutes.

According to the Australian Financial Review (AFR), there is “a concerted campaign to promote Beijing’s strategic interests in Australia through deals covering all the key areas of society.”

These concerns were raised after the University of Technology Sydney received an entire library from the Chinese government and an additional AUS$1.8 million (US$1.3 million) for the Australia-China Relations Institute from the Chinese-owned Yuhu Group.

The Yuhu Group also donated AUS$3.5 million (US$2.6 million) to the University of Western Sydney to set up a new Chinese cultural institute.

Besides that, AFR also claimed that the Communist Party-ruled government is trying to buy over influence in other areas of society.

“To date, money linked to China’s Communist Party has flowed to both major political parties, universities, primary schools, the national broadcaster and this week to the country’s biggest media companies,” it said.

The article also quoted the head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, Rory Medcalf, who said: “We have to assume that there is a larger strategy by the Communist Party to shift domestic public opinion in Australia on sensitive issues such as the US alliance and the South China Sea.

“The long-term goal is to make Australia less likely to oppose China in regional confrontations,” he added.

Chinese officials have also reportedly been urging their Australian counterparts to stand in China’s corner in ongoing disputes with the Philippines and other countries over sovereignty in the South China Sea.

The chair of the University of Technology Sydney’s Australia-China Relations Institute, Xiangmo Huang, was said to have told the Australian government to “resist America’s pressure” to join its recent patrols in the highly-disputed area.

Similarly, the Chinese government’s funding of Confucius institutes at U.S. universities have raised suspicions of a bid to disseminate Beijing’s Communist agenda and keep an eye on Chinese students studying overseas.

Such institutes are only allowed to teach courses and organize events related to China, such as Chinese language and culture.

However, due to fears regarding the extent of their influence, many universities, such as Penn State University and the University of Chicago, have closed down the institutes.

Recently, Beijing’s mouthpiece Xinhua News Agency reported that according to a survey conducted by researchers in Sydney, those in the Asia-Pacific believe that China’s influence over the region is set to overtake that of the United States’ over the next decade.

Run by the University of Sydney‘s United States Studies Centre, researchers polled 750 people each in Australia, Japan, South Korea, China, and Indonesia, focusing on Washington’s influence in Asia in the past, present, and future.

Most respondents in each country said that “the U.S.’s best years are in the past” – with 82 percent in China, 80 percent each in Australia and South Korea, 68 percent in Indonesia, and 61 percent in Japan agreeing with the statement.

Image via the Australia-China Relations Institute

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