The screening of an anti-Chinese Communist Party film at a Victorian university was cancelled shortly after Chinese diplomats sought “feedback” on the public event.
FOI documents obtained by The Weekend Australian reveal Victoria University cancelled the screening of In the Name of Confucius only a day after Melbourne’s Chinese consulate made its interest clear to university staff.
In the Name of Confucius, a film linked to the Chinese group Falun Gong, claims a global network of Chinese-backed Confucius Institutes are used to spread CCP influence in Western universities. It was due to be shown at Victoria University’s Melbourne CBD campus in September before it was shut down by staff.
The revelation raises questions about the influence of Chinese authorities on Australian universities, and its implications for free speech and will reopen debate about Confucius Institutes.
The Chinese director of Victoria University’s own Confucius Institute, Claire Wang, emailed dean of business Colin Clark on September 10 to pass on the details of the film screening, who to contact at the university about the booking, and to inform him of the Chinese consulate’s interest in the event.
“I have found out the room booking details for the Sep 21 event at VU … I have called (the) room booking department as well,” she writes. “The General Consulate is awaiting our feedback on this.”
The booking had been made by Journey West Media, a Melbourne company linked to Falun Gong, which is banned by the Communist Party in China. The documentary’s director, Doris Liu, also has links to Falun Gong.
Professor Clark, international director of Victoria University’s Confucius Institute, had earlier emailed the facilities department on September 7 and wrote: “I would like to talk to you about a facilities booking from the public that will become a problem for us.”
On September 10, Professor Clark emailed university business operations manager Adrian Wong, who is in charge of public event bookings, and wrote “Can we discuss?” with Dr Wang’s email detailing the Chinese diplomats’ interest attached.
Facilities staff were told a few hours later that Professor Clark would make a “formal communication” to have the event stopped. The next day, Journey West Media was told its screening was cancelled.
This is an excerpt of the Australian article. To read the entire article please click here.