'Human rights centre at VU undermined democracy’

VU Amsterdam’s China-sponsored human rights centre spread “lies that are toxic for our democracies”, according to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.

photo Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock

In her annual State of the European Union address today, Von der Leyen warned against foreign entities trying to undermine European values. “Their disinformation is spreading from the internet to the halls of our universities.” As an example, she cited the controversial Cross Cultural Human Rights Centre at VU Amsterdam.


Von der Leyen: “Earlier this year, a university in Amsterdam shut down an allegedly independent research centre, which was actually funded by Chinese entities. This centre was publishing so-called research on human rights, dismissing the evidence of forced labour camps for Uyghurs as ‘rumours’. These lies are toxic for our democracies.”

According to Von der Leyen, the European Union needs to better shield itself from malign interference. She outlined a package of measures that will expose clandestine foreign influence and shadowy financing. “We will not allow any autocracy’s Trojan horses to attack our democracies from within.”

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