New York University-Shanghai quietly created a pro-Chinese government course last year, in which students study “civic education,” all at the request of the Chinese government.
According to Vice, the course, titled “NYU Shanghai Chinese National Student Civic Education,” includes a lesson in which students watch a video about “Promoting the Prosperity and Development of Socialist Culture with Chinese Characteristics.”
The course syllabus lists multiple trips that students take as part of the course, such as a visit to the Longhua Memorial Cemetary and one the Shanghai War Memorial. Both locations celebrate and honor those who have died fighting for the communist party.
The course syllabus also reportedly states that the classes are not taught by NYU professors, but rather from other Shanghai universities.
This course was very much kept a secret, without ever being listed along with other courses. Students who were required to take the course were only informed about the new class via WeChat, a chat application used in China.
The course was introduced during the 2018-2019 school year over winter break and was not listed on the class registration system, according to the report.
A university spokesperson told Vice that the course is required by the Chinese government for Chinese citizens, and added that students who are not citizens of China do not have to take the course.
While the university maintains that the course is independent of NYU-Shanghai, the chancellor of the school appears to have spoken during one of the class sessions, according to the syllabus obtained by Vice.
Bobby Miller, vice president of the NYU College Republicans, said NYU has submitted to the “will of the Chinese regime.”
“NYU Shanghai's shameful capitulation to the Chinese Communist Party's propagandistic demands is a total betrayal of the university's pledge that classes would be conducted 'in accordance with the principles of academic freedom,'" Miller said.
Miller also noted that NYU’s Tel Aviv campus, located in Israel, is constantly under scrutiny by university members.
In May, an NYU academic department boycotted the program over entry restrictions, as reported by Campus Reform.
He said that this is “highly ironic” since NYU operates campuses in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi, “both of which are located in countries with abysmal human rights records and a complete disregard for academic freedom,” Miller said.
This new report comes at a time when Confucius institutes in the United States are under intense scrutiny, with FBI Director Christopher Wray having testified to Congress that the Chinese government is using U.S. universities to exploit American research and development.