A university funded by millions in Chinese cash has refused to remove its honour for Hong Kong‘s hardline justice secretary despite a desperate appeal from its own academics.
King’s College London has repeatedly refused to remove its prestigious college fellowship for Teresa Cheng who is behind the arrests of journalists and pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong.
More than 20 academics from King’s College law school wrote to Lord Geidt, in his role as chair of the university’s governing council, to call for Ms Cheng’s fellowship to be revoked.
But after more than a year, leaders at King’s wrote back to the academics refusing to remove the honour, claiming Ms Cheng’s ‘considerable work’ supporting former students warranted the award.
Last week Ms Cheng, who has been sanctioned by the US government for her role in suppressing democratic rights in Hong Kong, launched into a tirade against ‘appalling’ foreign politicians and organisations who had called for the release of journalists in the region.
King’s College London has repeatedly refused to remove its prestigious college fellowship for Teresa Cheng (pictured) who is behind the arrests of journalists and pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong
King’s refusal to remove Ms Cheng’s honour comes despite bosses apologising last April to staff who complained at the university’s picture tribute commemorating the death of Prince Philip because of his ‘history of racist and sexist comments’.
And in 2019 the university removed an honorary doctorate from the Sultan of Brunei after his country made homosexuality punishable by stoning to death.
Eva Pils, professor of law at King’s who was one of those calling for Ms Cheng’s honour to be revoked, said the university’s response was ‘not convincing’.
She added: ‘It makes me feel very uncomfortable personally, and I find it an absolute embarrassment she is still being honoured in this way. ‘I teach students from Hong Kong and am aware of what they’ve just been through.
She obviously bears responsibility. The campaign to revoke Ms Cheng’s honour began in 2019 when she was a leading figure in drafting the extradition bill which sparked protests in Hong Kong.
King’s is thought to have thousands of Chinese students paying millions in cash while it has received £660,874 from controversial telecoms giant Huawei since 2019.
Conservative MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith (pictured) said: ‘The fact King’s cannot in any way condemn someone like Teresa Cheng for her role in the crackdown on peaceful democracy campaigners is totally hypocritical’
Conservative MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘The fact King’s cannot in any way condemn someone like Teresa Cheng for her role in the crackdown on peaceful democracy campaigners is totally hypocritical.
‘When it comes to a serious issue of great importance, because they are so completely in hock to China, they daren’t say a word.’
Luke de Pulford, a human rights activist who launched the campaign, said: ‘It is a crying shame to see a once great institution scramble for flimsy excuses to celebrate a notorious tyrant just to keep China happy.’
A King’s College spokeswoman said: ‘After careful consideration and while recognising the strength of feeling to the political situation in Hong Kong, the governing Council of King’s College London has decided not to remove the FKC received by Mrs Cheng, as the contributions for which she received the award remain a matter of fact.’