Cambridge received funding from Chinese tech company with ties to the Chinese Communist Party

Funding from a tech firm linked to the Chinese Communist Party will fund a new engineering fellowship


It has been revealed that the University of Cambridge has received a “generous gift” from a controversial Chinese tech company, Tencent, in 2019 to fund a new engineering fellowship.

Tencent was founded with funding by China’s Ministry of State Security, according to a former senior CIA official, with a recent Pentagon report also stating that the technology company was working with Chinese security agencies on artificial intelligence.

The company is also said to have strong ties with the Chinese Communist Party.

A donation from the technology conglomerate has been used to fund the first fellowship in the new Dowling postdoctoral research fellowship programme at the Department of Engineering. The fellowship will focus on developing a new area of expertise around quantum technology with an emphasis on quantum computing.

Tencent is also known for developing a smartphone game in 2017 in which players could clap for President Xi’s speech to the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.

At the time, a spokesperson from the university said “technology giant Tencent has made a generous gift to fund a new five-year postdoctoral research fellowship in the Department of Engineering.

“Tencent uses technology to enrich the lives of Internet users… Tencent invests heavily in talent and technological innovation, actively promoting the development of the Internet industry.”

The university told The Times that it had a “robust” system for reviewing donations. It added: “Academic freedom is a fundamental principle, and no donor directs research.”

In the past, Jesus College has hosted former Chief Administration Officer of Tencent, Dr. Charles Chen Yidan, three times during the European leg of the Yidan Prize Conference Series, a prize awarded for contributions to education research and development.

The engineering fellowship programme is named in honour of Professor Dame Ann Dowling, first female professor at and former head of the Department of Engineering. Professor Dowling was also the first female president of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Professor Dowling said: “I am delighted to see a new programme for ambitious early career researchers which gives them the opportunity to make a difference in the field and the wider world.”

For more information about the Dowling postdoctoral fellowship programme, please click here.

The University has been approached for comment.

Feature image credit: The University of Cambridge