Vision has been informed that the University of York’s Vice Chancellor, Charlie Jeffery, met with the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Zheng Zeguang, on a visit to York.
The meeting, which appears to have taken place on Thursday the. 20th July at Heslington Hall, was confirmed on Zeguang’s Twitter account, which posted two photographs of Charlie Jeffery alongside the diplomat, and in one photo, warmly shaking hands with him inside the building.
In his post, Zeguang says, “Pleased to meet w/ Vice-Chancellor and President Prof Charlie Jeffery on the historic campus of @YorkUniversity. We had a good discussion on York’s educational cooperation with China and believed it helps expand human knowledge & enhance mutual understanding.”
The University of York has not yet released anything about Zeguang’s visit to campus on its Twitter @UniOfYork, or on its website.
The Ambassador also visited Chinese students at the University, who were also pictured outside Heslington Hall with Zeguang in another Twitter post saying:
“Such a delight to meet w/ Chinese students studying @YorkUniversity. Keep up your good work pursuing academic excellence & building bridges of friendship btw China and the UK!”
Students have expressed concern after discovering Charlie Jeffery’s meeting with the Chinese ambassador.
In an email to the Vice-Chancellor, Ellis Holden, a third-year Politics and International Relations BA student, told Vision the visit is “an utterly disgraceful display of disregard for the human rights violations the Chinese state has committed against Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang province in Western China.”
He also cited China’s “disregard for freedom of press and freedom of speech through the social credit system.”
He said, “We should support British values of democracy and freedom and you should know all too well that the Chinese government are no arbiters of such values.”
Vision reached out to the University to comment on the purpose of the meeting with the ambassador.
A University of York spokesperson said:
“The visit from the Chinese Ambassador prompted some really productive discussions about the student experience and educational opportunities for our Chinese students at York.
“Education is a common language that we share with many cultures, regardless of political differences.
“In order to create a truly international experience and be global citizens, we must engage with academic institutions, governments and employers from all over the world, and forge sustainable and mutually beneficial research and teaching collaborations to make positive change in the world.”