British private schools struggling to find funding amidst the global pandemic are falling prey to and are being shopped by Chinese firms, sparking fears that CPP influence will spread in the U.K.
Firms from communist China are buying up British private schools that are struggling amidst the financial crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. These firms are run by "high-ranking members of the ruling Chinese Communist Party [who] seek to expand their influence over Britain's education system," The Daily Mail reported.
Seventeen British private schools have already been bought by these Chinese firms, but experts believe that this is just the start of a shopping spree or "feeding frenzy" to get their hands on these U.K. educational institutions.
According to the report, 9 out of the 17 schools that were bought off are now owned by firms that are led by China's most senior Communist Party members. These 17 schools have been found to be using educational tools that are expanding communist influence in the west, teaching students a "'whitewashed' view of China."
One Chinese firm even admitted that they acquired the British private schools to support communist China's "Belt And Road strategy," which goal is to expand their country's global influence.
"British private schools are a weak link, because there is a need for investment, and the CCP is taking advantage of that," Wang Jianhong, spokesman for the U.S.-based rights group Humanitarian China told Radio Free Asia. "British private schools are a weak link, because there is a need for investment, and the CCP is taking advantage of that."
Wang warned that there is "little awareness of CCP infiltration" and that there is truly an increase in the number of British private schools that are being bought off by companies from communist China. Wang said, "Compulsory education providers in the U.K. are now owned by enterprises controlled by the CCP, and the worry now is that its ideology will affect what is being taught there."
What's more, Wang cautioned that "Western countries have yet realized the extent of the CCP's involvement here."
U.K.-based author Ma Jian is on the same page with Wang when it comes to communist China shopping for British private schools. Ma explained that this move is "about targeting the next generation, educationally speaking" and that it is totally on-brand for communist China to expand their influence in the west and to the rest of the world.
One of the key players in the bid for communist China to shop around for financially struggling British private schools is Bright Scholar, headed by Yang Huiyan, who is reportedly worth $27.3 billion and is the only woman in Bloomberg Billionaires Index's 15 richest people from Asia, as reported by Insider. The 38 year-old businesswoman is the daughter of Yang Guoqiang, a member of the Communist Party's highest-ranking advisory council.
Meanwhile, two British private schools Bedstone College in Shropshire and Ipswich High School are also now owned by Wanda Group, which is headed by Wang Jianlin, an ex-soldier for the People's Liberation Army who is now worth $14.8 billion and is also a member of China's senior Communist Party advisory council. China First Capital Group, which also has senior Communist Party members on its board, is now the owner of two more British private schools.
Conservative Member of the Parliament Tom Tugendhat admitted that communist China now has a strategic advantage in influencing others and that as a country, U.K. needs to "decide what it is we are prepared to defend."