Date
26 September 2017
Kean University is defending its controversial purchase of a Chinese conference table, calling the intense focus on the issue narrow-minded. Photo: Kean University
Kean University is defending its controversial purchase of a Chinese conference table, calling the intense focus on the issue narrow-minded. Photo: Kean University

What’s the fuss about a Chinese conference table?

Has a government school in New Jersey just bought itself into Chinese guanxi?

No such thing is being suggested but some people have been quick to connect the dots.

We will let the story speak for itself. Make of it what you will.

Associated Press is reporting that a New Jersey lawmaker is calling for a review of Kean University’s purchase of a US$219,000 custom-built, multimedia conference table from a company in China.

The state university recently opened a school in southeastern Wenzhou which it hopes to expand from its 880-strong enrollment.

Kean University did not put the project out to bid and picked a company in Shanghai.

“Whether or not this is legal, it’s certainly not ethical and it’s a waste of taxpayer money,” assemblyman Joe Cryan said in a statement.

Cryan called asked the attorney general to review the waivers Kean used to buy the table — which has a host of built-in multimedia devices — without putting out a bid.

Kean said the table falls under the professional creative services category that doesn’t require bids.

“It is small-minded to focus on the university buying a US$200,000 table,” university president Dawood FarahFarahi said.

The 22-foot circular table seats 23 people and is made of oak with cherry veneer. It features lighting, data ports, gooseneck microphones, an illuminated world map and a motorized, two-tiered glass turntable.

There also is a power manager unit with an eight-channel power output independent socket to reduce and restrain surge impact, and a separate equipment cabinet to house the electronic equipment

Farahi said the table would have cost US$500,000 if made in the United States.

The gesture might mean more in China’s personal influence system called guanxi.

But who knows really? 

– Contact us at [email protected]

RA

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