The Cost of Immoral Money

A friend on the street offers you £50. Would you take it? Yes. A murderer offers you £50 to be their friend for life. Would you take it? Probably not. Yet European governments continue to financially ally theirselves with the nation equivalent of a dangerous criminal. This serious misjudgement leaves their economies vulnerable and their societies exposed to malevolent influences.

As with most ideas and innovations, the private sector is far ahead than the public sector. Gillian Tett, Co-Founder of FT Moral Money, has declared that ethical, sustainable, and responsible investing is “the next big thing”. Whilst this might not be a unique insight into the future of investing ($31 trillion of investable assets are already managed with an ESG mandate), Tett is certainly not wrong. On any major company’s website, there are sections on sustainability and diversity and inclusion. Values cited will frequently contain the word ‘integrity’ and many companies will refuse to work with ethically questionable organisations. Immoral money offers a severe risk of damaging an organisation’s finances and reputation. If the private sector knows this, it is time the public sector gets on board.

If there’s only one lesson the UK can learn from Russia’s invasion it is this: the nation must not rely on countries that do share the same values. Without reliance on Russian gas and oil, energy prices in Europe would not be increasing to such a high extent. According to Energy UK, the average energy bill could reach £3,000 in October, when the price cap is reviewed. This is not a short-term problem: the transition to more ethical energy sources has the potential to be financially devastating given Russia produces 17% of gas and 12% of oil globally. Governing bodies must be held accountable for their long-standing misjudgment to rely on such a geopolitically unstable country. At least the UK is not as dependent as the EU on Russia, which supplies the nations with 40% of their natural gas and 25% of their oil. The IEA (the International Energy Agency, not the think-tank) has released a 10-Point Plan to reduce the EU”s reliance on Russian natural gas. It will naturally be challenging due to the difficulty of building new energy infrastructure and the expense of going renewable. Why was this not considered earlier? It’s no secret Putin is like an irritating child fond of throwing tantrums, playing with tanks, and stealing other people’s possessions (a.k.a. their country). Yet, it seems governments are prone to taking the easiest and cheapest option which exposes the downside of having short-term ruling bodies. Queen Victoria, who reigned Great Britain from 1837 to 1901, was sensible enough to recognise this, although ironically she was quite fond of invading countries and throwing tantrums too. An imperialist rule is exactly what the UK is fighting against, however, so reimposing it is not an option. Instead, the nation should now prevent any further reliance on immoral money.

Chinese funding in Universities is chilling. In February it was revealed Oxford University agreed to rename its Wykeham Chair of Physics as the Tencent-Wykeham Professorship. Coincidentally Tencent, a Chinese software firm with links to the Communist regime’s intelligence services, has offered a £700,000 donation. Furthermore, Chinese students account for almost £2 billion in revenue for the higher education sector. Imperial College London, for example, gets more than 20% of its tuition fees from China. Civitas reported that 20 British universities have dealings with 29 Chinese institutions and nine other companies with military links. Search up “China funding UK” into Google, and you’ll receive lists and lists of research-orientated partnerships between China and the UK, including the Great Britain China Educational Trust and the Newton Fund. For those that underestimate the issues a tight relationship could cause, consider first the implication of being tied to a communist government that disregards human rights and is posed to invade Taiwan. Consider next, the fact that the number of research collaborations between scientists in the UK and Chinese institutes with deep connections to the country’s defence forces has tripled in six years. This demonstrates the rising and worrying scale of cooperation with the hostile state. Consider lastly, the quality of education of students is at stake. One student at the University of St Andrews commented on how one tutor in a class based on China’s modern-day government failed to bring up – let alone highlight – the Uyghur genocide. No one is accusing the University of supporting a nation that abuses human rights, but one cannot help but wonder if this type of propaganda is seeping into every UK institution that is linked to China. It is no wonder, when approached by Steerpike of the Spectator, so many leading universities declined to answer Freedom of Information requests about any donations or research grants they’d received from either the Chinese Ministry of Education or companies with close links to China. These partnerships are questionable and the universities know it. 

What must be done is what should have been years ago with Russia. Universities cannot be allowed to renew or make any more contracts or partnerships with Chinese organisations. Diplomacy is important but not getting out of the relationship now will only worsen the consequences when the UK realises it is too late to exit. In this time of crisis, nations must learn from its past mistakes and seek more tenable and secure options. Moral money is the answer, not just because of ethics, but for the sake of Western economies, societies, and values.

Olivia Groom

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and may not reflect the values of The Liberty Club

%d bloggers like this: