Time to reconsider academic collaboration with China

The latest announcement from the Chinese Communist Party regarding the restrictions on academics publishing information on the origins of the coronavirus is a dangerous move that not only threatens the world’s ability to fight the coronavirus but requires a deep re-examination of our academic collaboration with China.

From the outset Beijing has attempted to strictly control the narrative, covering up the break out in the wet markets, silencing the whistle-blowers who spoke out on the lethality and contagiousness of the virus, and bringing the World Health Organisation under its influence to bolster whatever little credibility it has left.

This has been exacerbated by the revelations of operatives of the communist dictatorship buying up personal protective equipment and sending it to China while officials denied the existence of any problem.

This is a serious wake-up call for the Australian tertiary education sector and the CSIRO. As we deal with this virus and see how China responds to it, we must reassess our relationship with China, considering not only the economic implications of being so heavily dependent on one nation but in all facets, including how our universities and research institutions undertake collaborative research or study.

We know from experience China has been pushing to exert undue and unwanted influence into our higher academic system and this latest development must prompt swift consideration of how we deal with a regime that now has consistently tried to stifle and control academic freedom within its own country and others.

It is particularly insidious to eliminate the facts surrounding the origins of the virus as this will impact the world scientific and medical community’s ability to research and gather the information that can help stop the spread and mitigate the damage of the virus. It will generally raise doubts on any future medical or scientific information emanating from China and in particular any medical or scientific information on the coronavirus.

About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

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