This morning, the New York Post published a story arguing that New York University was “booting” blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng from the university after pressure from the Chinese government. The paper speculates that NYU’s plans for a Shanghai campus were behind the decision.
Chen, a political dissident who spent years under house arrest in China, became a fellow at the university after escaping from his homeland with the help of Hillary Clinton in May 2012.
Now a source close to Chen has hit back at the article, describing it as a “hatchet job” on embattled NYU President John Sexton, whom the source also described as a “hero” and a “stand up guy” for the role he played in accepting Chen in the first place.
However, the source, who asked to remain anonymous, told Business Insider that Chen’s plight does reveal one thing — the incredible influence of the Chinese government in U.S. education.
China has concrete ways of exerting itself in the global higher education market, such as the state-funded Confucius Institute s that have been popping up around the world. There are 70 such non-profits in the U.S., promoting Chinese language and culture, according to a New York Times article from last year. The Confucius Institutes are extremely attractive to cash-strapped colleges, though some question their influence.