Statement by the EACS Board regarding the sanctions issued by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs against European China researchers
The European Association for Chinese Studies (EACS) supports and advocates for independent academic research on China and hence disapproves of the People’s Republic of China’s reaction to foreign governments’ and administrations’ diplomatic actions by holding directly responsible academic researchers, their relatives, and their institutions in Europe. As an independent professional academic association of European scholars, EACS trusts in the good faith of researchers and in the transparency of academic research on China, and firmly believes that such approaches contribute significantly to the sustainability of international relations.
Therefore, EACS explicitly rejects the unsubstantiated claims against and the defamation of European researchers and research institutions as circulators of “lies and disinformation” by the P.R.C. government. With the majority of our members pursuing academic scholarship related to the sinophone world, we call upon the Chinese government to respect such scholarship and to protect it from direct or indirect political interference.
Chinese government officials claim to “resolutely protect the feelings of the Chinese people” from doubts shed on the legitimacy of several political measures implemented in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. State-authorized sanctions against our research community are not acceptable merely because scholars/authors do not align themselves with the official line of the Chinese Communist Party in their respective research fields. If continued, such attempts to enforce a “moral” bias in favour of official interpretations of facts and to discredit and discourage politically unwelcome research will produce only much more and stronger suspicion against China’s political system and its culture in European societies and worldwide. To avoid this, EACS explicitly welcomes scholarly dispute including arguments in favour of government positions. However, we insist that such conversation must be conducted through academic channels, never by means of political pressure.
European China scholars’ interests, approaches, and methods reflect a long-standing and, at the same time, dynamically developing, knowledge-based relationship between Chinese and European cultures and societies. We expect this relationship to be honoured, respected, and welcomed by political leaders on both sides, first, by not interfering in its institutional development and, second, by providing secure working conditions for its participants in both Chinese and European academia.
Board of the European Association for Chinese Studies
9th April 2021