Petition expressing concern about Li Po Chun UWC’s Belt & Road Learning and Resources Centre initiative 聯署聲明:關注李寶椿聯合世界書院成立「一帶一路資源中心」

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Full text of the bilingual petition letter is provided below.

聯署已結束,多謝留意。
如欲參閱聯署聲明中文版本,請見下方。


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Petition expressing concern about Li Po Chun UWC’s Belt & Road Learning and Resources Centre initiative


On 15th May 2018, Li Po Chun United World College (LPCUWC) received a HK$50 million [1] donation from the Lee Shau Kee Foundation, for the establishment of a Belt and Road Learning and Resources Centre (一帶一路資源中心; “the centre”). The donation was approved by the UWC International Board on 28th October 2018, and the centre is due to open in Autumn 2019. LPC says the centre will organise short courses and service-learning trips to enhance local students’ understanding about the “Belt and Road” countries. The donation funds will also be allocated to scholarships for students from these countries.

The establishment of the centre casts doubt on the political impartiality of LPC and UWC. The Belt and Road initiative (BRI) is the signature foreign policy strategy adopted by the Chinese government – a controversial attempt to exert its geopolitical influence across Eurasia. While facilitating construction of large infrastructure projects in developing countries, the BRI has also become synonymous with the use of debt-trap diplomacy [2] and expanded military presence [3].

Whilst the educational concept behind the centre deserves support, LPC would be the first UWC to have a permanent project or institution named after a particular national policy. In contrast to LPC’s assertion [4], we consider naming the new centre after the BRI clearly politically partial. "Belt and Road" is a term coined by Chinese president Xi Jinping. It functions not only as a geographical term, but also represents a Chinese-oriented regional development framework. The naming of the centre undeniably represents the institution's implicit endorsement of this political view, regardless of intent. In addition, the name will invite unnecessary speculation regarding the political background of LPC and UWC, suggesting an affiliation with the Chinese government. Naming the centre after the BRI will set a worrying precedent for all UWCs, tarnishing their long-standing commitment to peace and political impartiality.

Even after LPC’s statement in October, there is still a lack of information for the alumni and general public regarding the details of the donation. To ease our worries, we hope to know more about the funding proposal and decision-making that ultimately led to the donation, particularly regarding the decision to name the centre “Belt and Road”. Is the name “Belt and Road” a condition imposed by the donor, or an idea suggested by LPC? Was the Hong Kong Government, the Education Bureau or any external parties part of this decision-making process, and if so, what was their level of involvement? [5] We believe that only with more information can a thorough, informed and constructive discussion be conducted amongst the alumni.

We therefore request that LPC and UWC International:

1. reconsider the name of the centre
2. release more information regarding the negotiations and correspondence leading up to the donation

Political impartiality and freedom of expression have long been the cornerstones of our UWC mission. They form the basis of genuine cultural exchange at UWC. Despite LPC’s promise [6] to safeguard students’ freedom of expression now and beyond, this is no certainty, given Hong Kong is on the front line of China's influence, experiencing unprecedented pressure on freedom of expression since the handover. We urge LPC and UWC International to stay vigilant against any potential political influence. Only by staying politically impartial can UWC truly be a free and open place that unites peoples and cultures, regardless of borders and political backgrounds.

Please sign the petition by filling in your name, alma mater (alumni) or school (current UWC students), and year of graduation to show your support. Members of the public are also welcome to sign.

All signatures will be sent alongside the petition letter to Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong and UWC International Board on 10th December 2018 (Monday).


Initiators
Sunny Chan, LPCUWC ‘12
Ming Yan Lee, LPCUWC ‘15
Hazel Leung, AC '16
Adrienne Li, UWCRCN ‘08
Alexas Ng, AC ’15
Tiffany Pang, LPCUWC ‘18
Justin Yim, UWC-USA ‘15

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[1] LPCUWC's announcement on the acceptance of donation from Lee Shau Kee Foundation (15th May 2018), https://bit.ly/2zxQGvI

[2] 'Warning sounded over China's "debtbook diplomacy"', The Guardian (15th May 2018), https://bit.ly/2rI4Fuk

[3] 'First Djibouti ... now Pakistan port earmarked for a Chinese overseas naval base, sources say', South China Morning Post (5th Jan 2018), https://bit.ly/2PdGkX4

[4] Response from Willie Heung, Director of Development at Li Po Chun United World College (9th October 2018), https://bit.ly/2Pb9vtK

[5] On 28th February 2018, LPC organised an education symposium "Breaking Boundaries, Building Bridges: The Role of Education" (https://bit.ly/2Rrf5ub). In the opening speech by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, she “underlined her support and appreciation for LPCUWC's new strategic direction and its mission to bolster the culture and knowledge exchange dimension of the Belt and Road.”

[6] Response from Willie Heung, Director of Development at Li Po Chun United World College (9th October 2018), https://bit.ly/2Pb9vtK

Photo credit: Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong (https://bit.ly/2zxQGvI)
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聯署聲明:關注李寶椿聯合世界書院成立「一帶一路資源中心」


2018年5月18日,李寶椿聯合世界書院 (Li Po Chun United World College; “LPC”;書院) 與李兆基基金簽署協議,接受其港幣五千萬元捐款,成立「一帶一路資源中心」(下稱「資源中心」)[1]。聯合世界書院國際董事會(UWC International Board;國際董事會)於十月下旬通過了此筆捐款的審批,資源中心將於2019年秋季啟用。書院表示,資源中心會舉辦短期課程及義工服務遊學團,增進香港學生對「一帶一路」沿線國家的認識。此外,部份捐款將撥作獎學金用途,資助來自「一帶一路」沿線國家的學生。

資源中心成立,令人質疑書院的政治取態是否中立。「一帶一路」是中國政府近年採取的重點外交政策,很多人爭議此是為擴展其於歐亞地區的地緣政治影響力。雖然「 一帶一路」為沿線的發展中國家建設大規模的基建工程,但亦有說該政策與「債務陷阱」外交有關 [2],並帶有擴展海外軍事基地的目的 [3]。

成立資源中心背後的教育理念固然值得支持,但有關命名會使李寶椿聯合世界書院成為聯合世界書院全球各分校中,以國家政策命名轄下機構或永久項目的首例。儘管書院聲稱該命名不影響其政治中立性 [4],我們認為以「一帶一路」命名校內中心是清晰的政治取態。「一帶一路」是由中國國家主席習近平杜撰的新詞,它不只表達地理位置,亦代表著一個以中國為導向的地區發展綱領。不論書院的原意為何,該命名無疑地象徵了書院贊同、認可及支持「一帶一路」政策。此外,其亦有可能引起就書院政治背景的揣測,猜度書院與中國政府有所聯繫。聯合世界書院一直推崇和平及政治中立的價值,我們擔心是次命名會為全球十七間分校開出極壞先例,有損書院核心價值。

書院於10月發表了聲明交代事件,但提供予校友及公眾有關捐款的資料仍不足夠。我們希望能進一步了解捐款方案的詳情,以及書院如何作出接受捐款的決定,特別是以「一帶一路」命名資源中心的原因。該命名是否捐款者提出的捐助條件,抑或是書院的主意?香港政府、教育局或外界其他持份者又有否參與此決策?如果有,他們參與決策的程度為何?[5] 我們需要更多資料去了解事件的詳情,與其他校友作出深入和具體的討論,釋除憂慮。

因此,我們要求書院及國際董事會:
1. 重新考慮命名決定
2. 透露更多有關捐款商議過程的資料

聯合世界書院一直堅守政治中立及守護言論自由,該基石讓學生能進行真誠的文化交流。書院雖然承諾現在及未來都會維護學生的言論自由 [6],但香港自回歸後,現時正受中國的影響,言論自由受到前所未有的威脅。我們敦促書院及國際董事會對於任何潛在的政治影響提高警覺。只有緊守政治中立原則,書院才能維持自由及開放,連繫來自不同地方及擁有不同政治背景的人與文化。

請參與聯署,支持上述聲明。欲參與聯署的校友或學生,請填上姓名、所屬分校及畢業年份。公眾人士亦歡迎參與聯署。

所有簽名將於2018年12月10日(星期一)連同聯署聲明,送交李寶椿聯合世界書院(LPCUWC)及聯合世界書院國際董事會(UWC International Board)。


發起人
Sunny Chan, LPCUWC ‘12
Ming Yan Lee, LPCUWC ‘15
Hazel Leung, AC '16
Adrienne Li, UWCRCN ‘08
Alexas Ng, AC ’15
Tiffany Pang, LPCUWC ‘18
Justin Yim, UWC-USA ‘15

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[1] 李寶椿聯合世界書院公佈接受李兆基基金會捐款(2018年5月15日)https://bit.ly/2zxQGvI(只有英文版本)

[2] 'Warning sounded over China's "debtbook diplomacy"', The Guardian (15th May 2018), https://bit.ly/2rI4Fuk(只有英文版本)

[3] 'First Djibouti ... now Pakistan port earmarked for a Chinese overseas naval base, sources say', South China Morning Post (5th Jan 2018), https://bit.ly/2PdGkX4(只有英文版本)

[4] 香港李寶椿聯合世界書院發展總監香蔚霖先生就書院接受捐款及命名爭議的回應(2018年10月9日)https://bit.ly/2Pb9vtK(只有英文版本)

[5] 2018年2月28日,李寶椿聯合世界書院舉辦「突破界限,聯合世界:教育的角色」教育研討會。(https://bit.ly/2Q6AQCX)行政長官林鄭月娥女士在開幕發言時,表達其「對李寶椿聯合世界書院全新策略方向,與及書院推動擴闊一帶一路文化知識交流使命的支持及欣賞。」

[6] 香港李寶椿聯合世界書院發展總監香蔚霖先生就書院接受捐款及命名爭議的回應(2018年10月9日)https://bit.ly/2Pb9vtK(只有英文版本)

相片來源:香港李寶椿聯合世界書院(https://bit.ly/2zxQGvI

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