The University of Oslo is opening a controversial China center

Fudan University in Shanghai. Photo: ALY SONG / REUTERS

Last year, the FUDAN-European Centre for China Studies at the University of Copenhagen closed but now a new center is set to open at the University of Oslo. The center will be called the ‘Fudan European Center for Chinese Studies’.

China researcher Harald Bøckman believes it is wrong to enter such collaboration now but Rector at UiO believes that boycotts of individual countries are wrong, local media NRK reports.

Fudan University in Shanghai is one of China’s leading universities. They have their own international department that takes care of the centers in other continents. According to China researcher Harald Bøckman, the Fudan European Center for Chinese Studies is to an even greater extent a lectern for China’s official view of current issues in the world and he believes it is wrong to enter such collaboration now. Harald Bøckman has previously worked at the Center for Development and the Environment at UiO. Ever since the Olympics in 2008, he has been denied entry to China.

According to NRK, Rector of UiO, Svein Stølen completely disagrees with Harald Bøckman and says, “I think we will become a political player if we start boycotting individual countries”. Svein Stølen says that he is aware of all the challenges that cooperation with China entails. But it also provides a better understanding of China and Chinese research, he says.

The Fudan European Center for Chinese Studies will be run by a general manager who is paid by Fudan University in China and a Norwegian coordinator who is paid by UiO. Only one similar center exists in Africa. The general manager, Chunrong Liu, is a political scientist and has written about governance and politics. The center will conduct network building within three main areas; social sciences and humanities, health and medicine, and climate and environment through seminars for researchers, students, and people outside the university.

According to the Fudan European Center’s website, the center is “a strategic initiative to meet the growing need for a more nuanced and balanced understanding of China’s development and global influence”. Professor of Chinese studies, Mette Halskov Hansen explains that wording is linked to Fudan’s old agreement with the University of Copenhagen and it will be changed soon.

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