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Letter to the Editor: ASU must reconsider its deep ties with China

Arjun Rondla, treasurer for ASU College Republicans, says the University must distance from China's 'totalitarian regime'

letter to the editor graphic

 "Dear State Press, you've got mail." Illustration published on Friday, March 3, 2017.

While it may not be apparent to most ASU students, our University has a deep relationship with China — a totalitarian regime with no regard for human rights, only seeking to expand its influence and ideology abroad.

Currently, ASU runs three degree programs in Shanghai, with the stated goal of “cultivat(ing) world-class executives for China’s state-owned enterprises." Additionally, ASU conducts research with many Chinese universities and hosts multiple study abroad programs in the country. ASU’s goals in China are well-intentioned: building connections and avoiding conflicts together, according to President Michael Crow.

However, ASU is instead emboldening the Chinese regime — ignoring its increasingly awful human rights record and global ambitions.

For example, ASU has an Executive Master of Business Administration program specifically developed for China Unicom, a state-owned telecommunications operator, which was responsible for a 2015 cyberattack on Github. Github is an American platform where information that would otherwise be censored in China can be stored and accessed by those avoiding the country's censors. 

ASU even describes the university they partner with to deliver their degree program as “under the governance of China’s Ministry of Finance.”

This is a regime that is currently putting millions of Uighurs  — a predominantly-Muslim ethnic group native to China’s Xinjiang Province — in concentration camps reminiscent of Nazi Germany. The Communist Party also sanctions the outright ethnic cleansing of Uighurs, forcing Uyghur women to undergo forced sterilizations and abortions on a large scale.

This month, China ended Hong Kong’s sovereignty, imposing the so-called “National Security Law” effectively ending freedom of assembly and speech in the previously autonomous territory. Signs promoting independence are now illegal and Hong Kong schools are destroying books critical of Communist China.

In 2019, Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, was forced to apologize after tweeting support for protesters in Hong Kong. Recently, the NBA prohibited customers from writing “Free Hong Kong” on jerseys. How long until ASU student-athletes — who do play in China — are no longer allowed to speak their mind for fear of angering the Chinese regime?

Last year, ASU closed the Confucius Institute on campus after the Department of Defense threatened to withhold certain funding from the University. Confucius Institutes are widely considered to be under the direct control of the Chinese Communist Party, with the express purpose of undermining academic freedom and surveilling Chinese students abroad.

ASU should always welcome Chinese students — many seeking America’s freedom — to our Valley campuses, with the hope that many of them will eventually become American citizens who contribute to our country. 

However, ASU cannot continue to pretend that the Chinese Communist Party is acting in good faith. China’s ambitions span further than increased trade with the United States; China seeks to become the dominant global power — economically, militarily, and politically.

In years past, there was hope that China would democratize with increased engagement. However, the reality is that the Chinese regime has no interest in democracy or human rights. 

ASU must recognize that it is playing a role in enabling this brutal regime and reconsider its presence in China.

Editor’s Note: The opinions presented in this letter to the editor are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. This letter to the editor was submitted by Arjun Rondla, treasurer for ASU College Republicans and a sophomore studying political science. 

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