Over the last century we have seen that students have been at the forefront of every major social movement. Speaking truth to power naturally runs through their veins. Students challenge the norms of their societies, whether it is racism or unjust wars. They don’t care who is in power and they have a disdain for those who compromise human dignity for trade or appeasement. Therefore, it is no wonder that students have been vocal about the recent Uyghur genocide. This, of course, puts them at odds with the universities at which they study, since many universities have dealings with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
alumni and current students should work to uphold human rights, so they can be associated with a university that is not at some future date remembered for aiding oppression.
Imperial College London has signed a sponsorship deal with Huawei to finance a new "tech hub", which will focus on developing 5G and AI technology. This is worrying for three reasons:
- the links between Huawei and the CCP
- Huawei's involvement in Uyghur oppression and
- the ongoing human rights violations being committed by the CCP
A UK parliamentary inquiry has concluded there is "clear evidence of collusion" between Huawei and the "Chinese Communist Party apparatus". Security concerns over Huawei has led to its removal from the UK's 5G network by the UK government. A recent patent belonging to Huawei and a group of China-based artificial intelligence organisations discloses the use of discriminatory facial recognition systems to target the Uyghur Muslim minority group. The Uyghur oppression has been labelled by the US government as a genocide, and Huawei has been party to the violations of human rights through their technologies. Cyber-espionage, enlisting of state-sponsored hackers, intrusive surveillance of personal information, theft of intellectual property, use of forced labour, sterilisation, physical and sexual violence, and concentration camps are all routine acts of the CCP.
Imperial College London should be on the right side of history
Minority groups such as Uyghurs, Tibetans and Mongolians face regular oppression by the CCP. Imperial College London's collaboration with Huawei and the CCP will increase the suffering of these groups. This is because the CCP uses AI technology to systematise their cruel policies and Chinese firms can not refuse the CCP's requests. Therefore, due to the reasons outlined above, the Imperial College London-Huawei deal is unethical and must be stopped.
Students at the university have expressed their objection of this deal on social media as well as through traditional means. I started the petition on change.org so that students across the world can join in and express their disapproval. Imperial College London should be on the right side of history. They should be using the values that they subscribe to within their walls to filter the companies that they partner with. My message to Imperial students is to use every means available to protest this deal and I want them to understand the power that they have as stakeholders. Universities ultimately are judged by not only their academic output but by the memories of students that passed through their corridors. Alumni and current students should work to uphold human rights, so they can be associated with a University that is not at some future date remembered for aiding oppression. The influential philosopher and sociologist Theodor Adorno wrote these memorable words in the beginning of his landmark essay, Education after Auschwitz: “The premier demand upon all education is that Auschwitz not happen again.” Imperial students should work to stop this deal so that their university does not contribute to the shadows of Auschwitz darkening the concentration camps in Xinjiang.