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China’s ambassador to the UK tells its students in Britain to serve ‘the motherland’ and uphold teachings of the Chinese Communist Party

Zheng Zeguang, was hosted by York, Birmingham and Leeds Universities. The ambassador instructed students to ‘make contributions to the motherland’ he was summoned to Foreign Office this week following cyber attack on MPs.

China’s ambassador to the UK told students at British universities to serve ‘the motherland’ and uphold the teachings of the Chinese Communist Party, it has emerged. Zheng Zeguang was hosted by the Universities of York, Birmingham & Leeds last summer, and told Chinese students to ‘keep in mind’ the words of president Xi Jinping. It comes after the ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Office this week when it emerged  Beijing had launched a cyber attack on MPs.

Former Tory Leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the events showed universities were ‘in hock’ to the communist state. Adding ‘if the British Government sent their ambassador around students in a foreign country to tell them that they should behave like British citizens, it would be considered quite peculiar.’

The University of York, which has around 3,000 Chinese students, did not publicise Mr Zheng’s visit on its UK social media pages, but photos posted on Chinese app WeChat showed the diplomat being handed gifts by vice-chancellor Charlie Jeffery.

The post said Mr Zheng ‘encouraged everyone to keep in mind general secretary Xi Jinping’s earnest teachings, adhere to patriotism and serving the country’. A visit to the University of Birmingham was also documented on WeChat and the Chinese government website, but not on the university’s social media pages. In a video of a visit to Leeds posted on China News Service, Mr Zheng instructed students to ‘make contributions to the motherland’.

MPs warned of Beijing’s growing influence in the UK’s higher education system last year. A report by Parliament’s intelligence and security committee noted there was ‘pressure on institutions… to prevent engagement with topics that harm the positive narrative presented by the Chinese Communist Party.’

A government spokesman said it was ‘taking steps to strengthen the UK’s protections from overseas interference in our higher education sector’.

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