To promote "Asian values" in higher education - and to ostensibly challenge the dominance of Western universities - China today launched an "Asian Universities Alliance" with 15 top higher education institutions from the region, including the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay.
The group will promote Asian values in higher education, Chinese officials said and will focus on joint scientific research in the coming months, besides hosting summits for educators and students.
Underlining the importance that China, which has been pushing its universities to spread their global reach, is attaching to the new initiative, a Chinese Politburo member and vice premier Liu Yandong on Saturday launched the plan in Beijing, saying the alliance "will become a platform for research collaboration to jointly improve the overall status and international influence of higher education in Asia".
Also present at the launch was Tsinghua University President Qiu Yong and Prasanna Majumdar, Deputy Director (Finance and External Affairs) and Professor of Aerospace Engineering at IIT Bombay.
The Asian Universities Alliance (AUA) is being backed by Beijing's elite Tsinghua University, which has led the Chinese push to acquire global weight in higher education. Last year, Tsinghua launched China's version of the Rhodes scholars programme, a $400 million initiative called the Schwarzman scholars.
Tsinghua said the AUA "will discuss Asian values and Asian ideas on higher education".
The founding members include Tsinghua University and Peking University, China's two top schools, IIT Bombay, National University of Singapore, University of Tokyo, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, South Korea Seoul National University, Chulalongkorn University of Thailand, the University of Yangon, Myanmar, University of Malaya of Malaysia, , University of Indonesia, the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, UAE University, King Saud University and Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev University.