Prague, Nov 13 (CTK) – Charles University (UK) Rector Tomas Zima closed the university’s Czech-Chinese Centre as of today due to his fears of bad publicity initiated by the controversial financing of its Czech-Chinese conferences by the Chinese embassy, he has announced in a press release.
In the press release, Zima emphasised that the centre’s closing will not impact the UK’s ongoing internal audit or its conclusions.
Last week, three academics left the UK’s Faculty of Social Sciences (FSV) over the centre’s unclear financing.
Zima said that the centre was originally meant to support and coordinate the faculty’s activities that were directed at possible cooperation with Chinese academic institutions.
“In consequence of the negative publicity that descended on the centre and significantly damaged its public image, other activities of various UK faculties could suffer unfortunately and undeservedly, something I find unfortunate and undesirable,” Zima said.
In October, the Aktualne.cz server wrote that Milos Balaban, the former secretary of the UK’s Czech-Chinese Centre, lied when saying that the Czech-Chinese conferences at the UK were mostly financed by the Centre while they were in fact financed by the Chinese embassy.
For example this September’s conference saw the Centre for Security Policy (SBP) company, founded by Balaban to organise the conferences, receive a 600,000 crowns gift from the Chinese embassy.
Following the publication of this information, Balaban stepped down from his position as the centre’s secretary.
Last week, two other academics, Libor Stejskal and Mirka Kortusova, left the FSV’s Department of Security Studies’ Institute of Political Studies (SBP IPS) over the same issue.
The UK leadership also faced criticism in early October for signing a cooperation contract with the Home Credit loan company, one of the world’s biggest companies offering consumer loans and a part of the PPF group belonging to Czech billionaire Petr Kellner.
In the contract, Home Credit committed to give 500,000 crowns to the UK annually for three years. The documentation also contained a clause stating that the parties involved vow not to damage each other’s good name, practically preventing the UK to criticise Home Credit.
The decision sparked a wave of criticism on the part of students and some academics, making Home Credit withdraw from the contract, saying it does not want to be dragged into irrational debates.
Zima then apologised, saying he underestimated the reaction to the signing of the contract.