HONG KONG—The Chinese Ministry of Education has sent an urgent notice to several Chinese universities to boycott Oxfam Hong Kong’s effort to recruit volunteers on Chinese campuses.
Oxfam Hong Kong is a member of Oxfam International, a nongovernmental network fighting poverty across the world. The organization held a press conference on Feb. 23 to deny the accusations made by the Education Ministry. Although Oxfam has never received any notice relating to the boycott or explanation from the Chinese Ministry of Education, its recruiting plans have been suspended.
Chinese Regime Boycotts Oxfam
According to the urgent boycott order from the Chinese Ministry of Education dated Feb. 4, Oxfam Hong Kong was described as a “nongovernmental organization desperately seeking to infiltrate the mainland,” and its branch leader “a stalwart of the opposition faction.” The order requested that local education departments and institutions cut their ties with the organization and strengthen its monitoring.
Oxfam Is Not Political
Howard Liu, Oxfam’s Hong Kong director in China, stressed to the press, on Feb. 23, that Oxfam in China “does not get involved in politics or break the law," and that “the aid agency has no intention of challenging the Chinese government.”
Over the past 20 years, Oxfam Hong Kong has been involved in projects to fight poverty and provide emergency relief, including school construction, teacher training, and curriculum reform, in participation with other nongovernmental organizations. In fact, 80 percent of Chinese participation in Oxfam projects has been through either the Chinese regime or organizations collaborating with the regime.
Liu denied the allegation of being the “opposition,” stating that, “Celebrities are included among the board members of Oxfam Hong Kong. We don’t believe that anyone’s personal interest or political background should affect their participating in Oxfam’s charity work. We do not believe there’s a so-called ‘opposition’ or ‘conservative faction’ in Oxfam. This kind of characterization of our staff or board members is unprofessional."
Liu urged the Chinese regime to approach domestic nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in a legal and organized manner, “I hope they’ll encourage registration of NGOs; and monitor them according to law, rules, and regulations, including Chinese media’s monitoring and criticizing NGOs—these should be provided with sufficient space as in Hong Kong, along with adequate standards and regulation, rather than ambiguous directives.”
Oxfam Fights Poverty Worldwide
Oxfam, formerly known as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, was established in 1942 in Oxford to provide food assistance to World War II victims in Greece. The name Oxfam is derived from “Oxford Committee for Famine Relief.” There are now 14 independent member organizations operating worldwide.
Oxfam’s Hong Kong board consists of 13 members from varied backgrounds, and includes Democrats and former government officials.
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