Chinese pro-democracy students in Australia experience harassment and fear punishment if they speak out on sensitive issues, a new report says.
Human Rights Watch found such students feel surveilled in Australia, leading many to self-censor in classrooms.
Academics teaching China courses in the country say they have also felt pressure to censor themselves.
China’s embassy in Canberra strongly rejected the report on Wednesday, calling it “biased”.
It said Human Rights Watch had “decayed into a political tool for the West” and the group was “always biased on China”.
The Australian government said it found the report “deeply concerning”.
There has been growing concern about China’s influence on local campuses in recent years, following a deterioration in relations between the two nations. Canberra is already investigating allegations of potential foreign interference.
In its report, Human Rights Watch warned that perceived pressure from China is undermining the academic freedom of Australian universities.
Australia’s higher education system is heavily reliant on fee-paying Chinese students, which accounted in pre-Covid times for about 40% of all international students in the country.
There are currently about 160,000 Chinese students enrolled in Australian universities. Continue reading…