On April 3, the Sunday Times newspaper published the main messages of a letter from the Chinese Embassy in London refuting claims of spying by Chinese students in the UK. The following is the full text of the letter:
I am writing in reference to the article "DYSON: CHINA HAS SPY BUGS IN UK UNIVERSITIES" carried by Sunday Times on March 27, which claims that Chinese students are stealing technological and scientific secrets from the UK. The claim, which is shocking and entirely unfounded and illogical, seriously misleads the public. British universities are in the best position to know the extent to which they allow foreign students to have access to information. So far no British university has raised any concern of this kind to the Chinese Embassy in the UK. According to SIR JAMES DYSON, the British government supports foreign students in studying science, technology and engineering with British taxpayers' money, and this is educating competitors for the UK and is "madness". Does this mean the UK does not welcome foreign students, and is it a mistake for foreign students to study in this country?
The Chinese government encourages its students to study in the UK and also asks them to abide by British law and to be committed to promoting the friendship and cooperation between the two countries. Among the nearly 120,000 Chinese students and scholars pursuing study and research in the UK, most are self-funded, paying tuition fees much higher than their British classmates. As they study and live in the UK, Chinese students also contribute to the economy of this country. According to rough estimates, the 120,000 Chinese students contribute 2 billion pounds to the UK every year. Their study in the UK is not only in the interest of China and China-UK cooperation but also beneficial to the UK, and for that they are warmly welcomed by British universities.
Chinese students come to the UK with friendly feelings to the country and many of them will work to promote the China-UK exchanges and cooperation in the future. The above mentioned article in the Sunday Times is a damaging slander to all Chinese students in the UK. We hope that the British society can provide for Chinese students a good learning and living environment, and that the British media can uphold the principles of objectivity and fairness and do not believe and spread hearsay and groundless accusations.
Apart from the letter from the Chinese Embassy, the Sunday Times also published the following three letters of similar purpose:
Maurice Juggins from Eckington, Worcestershire wrote:
I do not share Dyson's concern. Surely one should admire Chinese enterprise in having more than 50,000 students in Britain. Given the success of Chinese business and engineering skills, perhaps it would help our recovery if we had an equivalent number studying in China.
Lei Zhao from Brunel University wrote:
Why does Dyson only focus on Chinese students? Most undergraduate and master's students are all struggling with exams and essays.
Very little of the students' research can be applied to commercial applications, and if it is, the university will have very clear rules about patent issues. I think universities have a very efficient control system on the research and computer security, so installing spy software would be impossible.
Sunil Pal from London wrote:
If Sir James Dyson's fear is justified, it does not explain why he has subcontracted his work to the Far East ("Dyson: China has spy bugs in UK universities", News, last week). It is time that the blame game stopped and we find out why British industries are bought by foreign owners.