China Centre restructure announced

Following a detailed review by a panel of academics, Jesus College has announced the restructure of the China Centre, including changing its name and funding model.

The restructure aims to:

  • Remove confusion about the Centre’s purpose and activities
  • Make the Centre’s aims and funding fully transparent
  • Enhance the Centre’s governance.

The China Centre was formally established at Jesus College in 2016, and its remit evolved over the following years as it worked with different partners and personnel. Sonita Alleyne OBE became Master of Jesus College in October 2019 and began a review looking at all College activities and historic collaborations. In June 2021, the College’s Council commissioned a detailed review of the China Centre by a panel of College academics.

The China Centre Review has now been considered by Council. The recommendations have been accepted and the following actions will be taken. Unless noted below, these changes will be made from 1 August 2022.

Purpose and name

  • The Centre will be given a remit to continue operating for another five years. The College’s Council will set up a working party to consider its long-term future, with the aim of reporting back before the end of this time period.
  • The Centre’s primary purpose will be formally recognised as planning and running a series of interdisciplinary seminars on China for the benefit of the academic community in Jesus College and in Cambridge more broadly. To reflect this, the Centre will be renamed the China Forum.
  • The China Forum will reinforce its commitment to academic freedom by being bold and proactive in planning and running seminars on a wide range of topics.

Funding and transparency

  • The China Forum will be funded directly by the College. This will ensure that its first-rate seminar programme continues, as well as helping to remove any apparent conflicts of interest. We thank the Cambridge China Development Trust (an independent UK charity) for its past support for the China Centre. The changes to the Forum’s funding will be implemented from the start of the 2022-23 academic year.
  • Full details about the China Forum’s governance and funding arrangements and its Annual Report will be published in the Forum’s part of the College website.

Structure and management

  • Future appointments to the key management positions of the Forum (the roles of Director and Deputy Director) will be for a fixed period.
  • Responsibility for the day-to-day running of the seminar programme will be given to a formally constituted management team consisting of the Director, Professor Peter Nolan; the Deputy Director, to be recruited; and at least one other Jesus College Fellow.
  • The management team will report to the College Committee which oversees the Forum.
  • The relationship between the China Forum and the University will be strengthened, with Council appointing up to three distinguished China scholars from the University of Cambridge to join the College Committee which oversees the Forum.

Sonita Alleyne OBE, Master of Jesus College, said:

“The world has changed dramatically since the China Centre was established in 2016, which is why the College’s Council commissioned this detailed review and why we are taking the recommendations forward immediately. We will change the China Forum’s funding model and make its aims and funding fully transparent, so the Forum can continue its highly regarded scholarly seminar series which has covered topics as diverse as the ancient Liangzhu civilization, China’s high-speed trains, Xinjiang and its Muslim Minorities, and the future of Hong Kong since the series was launched in early 2019.”

Professor John Thompson, Chair of the Review Panel, said:

“The panel has delivered a frank and wide-ranging review which examined the Centre’s history, funding and mode of operation. It has made a series of recommendations that will, we believe, strengthen and improve the China Forum and enable it to develop further the excellent seminar programme which has been its primary concern in recent years. We are pleased that the College’s Council has accepted the report’s recommendations and we look forward to seeing the China Forum continue to flourish.”