Foreign Minister must call Ambassador in over AUT meddling

Tue, 30 Jul, 2019

“The Foreign Minister must seek an explanation from the Chinese Consul General over the second attempt in 12 months by the Chinese Government to shut down an event at the Auckland University of Technology”, ACT Leader David Seymour says.

Newsroom reported this morning that AUT stopped a commemoration of the anniversary of Tiananmen Square going ahead after concerns were raised by the Chinese Consulate. This follows an attempt by the Consulate last year to stop a Confucius documentary being aired at the University.

“It’s completely unacceptable that Chinese officials continue to intervene in our universities to prevent views being aired which are unfavourable to their Government.

“It is not the place of foreign governments to do so, and it shows a lack of respect for fundamental New Zealand values, including freedom of speech.  

“The Education Act requires that universities uphold academic freedom, including the ability to “question and test received wisdom, to put forward new ideas and to state controversial or unpopular opinions”, and that they accept a role as “critic and conscience of society”.

“Our educational institutions are places where young people should be confronted with different ideas and opinions and be taught to think critically. Students shouldn’t be coddled or sheltered from controversial ideas whether at the behest of a foreign government or a left-wing Vice-Chancellor at Massey University.”

“If we are to retain a free and open society we must push back against the slow erosion of our fundamental values.

“That must begin with Winston Peters telling the Chinese Consul General she should respect freedom of speech and academic freedom in New Zealand universities.”