Finish universities prepare guidelines on potential challenges when cooperating with China

Finnish Security Intelligence Service headquarters in Helsinki. According to security officials the level of risk related to China has increased in Finland. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture in cooperation with Finnish universities and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs are preparing its own guidelines for the university and science community due to the risks and threats regarding espionage involved in university and research collaboration with Chinese partners, YLE reports.

China is world-leading in several scientific disciplines and for universities wanting to stay at the cutting edge, collaboration with Chinese partners is important. At the same time, the EU has several projects underway to ensure safer cooperation with China, and the first EU-wide recommendations are set to be published soon.

According to the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo), the level of risk related to China has increased in the Nordic country as well and Finland’s guidelines are expected to be published in December.

Mari-Anna Suurmunne, a senior specialist in education and science at Finland’s Embassy in Beijing says to YLE that the guidelines aim to raise awareness of the potential challenges related to cooperation with China.

“The starting point is better and more informed cooperation,” she explains while adding that it has to be borne in mind that China’s social system and values differ from those in Europe, and competition for the top spot in the world of science may take place under a different set of rules.

YLE writes that no problems with Chinese students, researchers, or teachers at Finnish universities have been revealed but according to Supo, there is a risk of potential espionage in Finland. Supo communications specialist Aishi Zidan says, “Authoritarian states are increasingly prepared to use a wide range of means to achieve their own goals. In the pursuit of national strategic interests, the battle for technologies is especially emphasized.” 

“The Chinese government typically funds research activities that benefit its long-term strategic goals. Together, these development expenditures have also increased the risks associated with research collaboration,” Aishi Zidan notes.

When asked if students should see their Chinese classmates as potential spies, Aishi Zidan says “Of course not” and emphasizes that International cooperation is useful and important in many ways in the world of research and higher education. “This also applies to cooperation with China,” Aishi Zidan says. 

Read the full article with more on the matter here

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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