The Strategic Dependence of UK Universities on China – and Where Should They Turn Next?

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The Strategic Dependence of UK Universities on China – and Where Should They Turn Next?

15th November 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Whilst the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) attempts to extend its overseas intelligence gathering and foreign policy agenda on to UK campuses, it is the CCP’s ‘Military-Civil Fusion’ (MCF) strategy which further endangers national security, through attempts to rapidly expand its military modernisation programs, and ambitions for regional military hegemony across the Indo-Pacific – a critical region for UK foreign policy and national security.

A new study by Robert Clark investigates two overarching aspects of the dependence of UK universities on China. The first is the ability for UK higher education institutions, universities and academics, to financially de-risk from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), in order to end the reliance on Chinese funding (in terms of international student fees, research grants and donations) made from Chinese entities which will often have the capacity to harm or compromise national security.

The second aspect of this research is concerned with highlighting how this over-reliance on the PRC negatively affects British campuses, including academic freedoms and high-risk research collaborations with Chinese entities linked to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

The Henry Jackson Society and The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation are delighted to invite you to this timely discussion about the Chinese influence on the British education system.



Robert Clark is the Director of the Defence and Security Unit at Civitas. Prior to this he was a Defence Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. Robert specialises in both NATO and Chinese military strategy, land warfare, and the role of the UK’s Armed Forces both at home and overseas.

Robert has published reports ranging from Iranian security threats to the role of the Chinese defence industry in UK universities, also writing for the NATO Defense College, in Rome, and had several peer-reviewed journal articles published researching both China’s genocide against the Uyghurs and UK military affairs. Robert holds an MA in Conflict Studies from King’s College London, and served for 15 years in the British Army, which included frontline combat tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.


This photo is a property of James Cunningham


James B. Cunningham served as ambassador and deputy permanent representative to the United Nations (1999 -2004), consul general for  Hong Kong and Macau (2005-2008), ambassador to Israel (2008-2011) and deputy ambassador and ambassador to Afghanistan (2011-2014). He is currently a consultant, an adjunct faculty member at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.



Patricia Devlin is an award winning investigative journalist from Northern Ireland. In 2021, she was shortlisted for the international Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Awards and was most recently highly commended fin the 2022 Georgina Henry Award for Innovation in journalism.



Aliona Hlivco is the Managing Director of The Henry Jackson Society, and a political analyst and foreign policy expert with a background in domestic and international strategic communications, global affairs and geopolitics. She started her career in Ukrainian politics, holding several government positions in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Regional Parliament in Ukraine, focusing on international partnerships, cross-border cooperation, infrastructure, public-private partnerships and decentralisation. She ran eight national and local election campaigns, and coordinated strategy during the 2013-2014 Revolution of Dignity.

She finished her time in Ukrainian politics as an elected member of the regional parliament in 2015-2018 and a chief adviser to the Chairman of Regional Government.

Aliona contributes regularly to the BBC, Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, The Telegraph, Monocle, CapX and is a guest lecturer at various academic institutions (Harvard University, Cambridge University, Middlebury Institute of International Studies, NYU, London Business School, London UOTC, King’s College London etc) to provide her expertise on Ukraine and global affairs. She is fluent in English, Ukrainian and Russian, with an intermediate level in German.

She is a recipient of the Order of Merit for her outstanding service and invaluable contribution to the support of democracy in Ukraine during the Revolution of Dignity 2013-2014.

Aliona holds MA in Political Science and MPA from Chernivtsi National University in Ukraine.


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Tom Randall is the Member of Parliament for Gedling. In Parliament, Tom is co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Axial Spondyloarthritis and a Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Hong Kong. He is also a member of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee. Before his election to Parliament, Tom worked for a professional membership body. The first member of his family to go to university, Tom read law at Oxford University.


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The Henry Jackson Society was delighted to co-host with Civitas and the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong. The discussion included Mr. Robert Clark, Ambassador James Cunningham, and was chaired by Mr. Tom Randall MP. Robert started by stating that British universities are over reliant on tuition fees paid by international students from China and that these Chinese students who come over the United Kingdom are indoctrinated, trained, and taught how to act like students to infiltrate every aspect of campus life and report back to China through institutions like the Confucius Institute, the Chinese embassy in London and other Chinese consulates throughout the United Kingdom. He went on to say this was so that they can learn information that could be beneficial to the Chinese military and influence the perception narratives on China in the west to understand how the west thinks.

He expressed how necessary it is to learn how this indoctrination works so that British universities can put into action a plan to encourage the international Chinese students to expand on their talents in a safe environment away from the scrutiny and surveillance of the CCP.  James added that it is important that it is the responsibility of the government and the universities to acknowledge what China is doing to subvert and undermine western democratic values through their student scheme and finds a way of tackling the Chinese student indoctrination once they start studying in Britain before it starts to cause significant geopolitical ramifications on Britain’s foreign policy and military.





15th November 2023
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Room C, Portcullis House
1 Parliament St
London, SW1A 2JR
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Robert Clark, Ambassador James B. Cunningham, Patricia Devlin, Marc Sidwell


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