Foreign Policy Mag: Kick China’s Confucius Institute Off Campus

This photo taken 03 October, 2007 shows military officers saluting for a group photo beneath a display of national flags at a park in Beijing. China's ruling Communist Party's five-yearly gathering, it's 17th Party Congress, begins 15 October with President Hu Jintao expected to make bold power plays to cement …
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

A column published in Foreign Policy this week makes that case that American universities should cut ties with the Confucius Institute, an education organization funded by the Chinese government.

Andreas Fulda published a column in Foreign Policy on Tuesday about the creeping influence of the Confucius Institute on college campuses.

Breitbart News has reported last week that Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has continued his push for a federal investigation into the Confucius Institute. Like many others, Hawley is concerned that China is using the Confucius Institute, and the funding it offers to American universities, to exert control over the discourse on American college campuses.

Fulda points out that almost 100 American universities have partnered with the Confucius Institute since 2004. The institute is primarily designed to provide Mandarin Chinese language training. However, many critics are concerned that the institute is required to push positive, and often deceitful, messaging about China and its government.

Since 2004, around 550 Confucius Institutes have opened worldwide, with close to 100 in the United States and 29 in the United Kingdom. In recent years, however, the enthusiasm with which university leaders around the world have embraced the institutes has soured. Increasing numbers of them have been shut. That’s partially thanks to the geopolitical shift against an increasingly autocratic Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under Xi Jinping’s leadership and partially due to the institutes themselves being no more immune to the CCP’s waves of political repression than any other Chinese state institute—even abroad.

Academics have claimed that the Confucius Institute offers distorted, pro-Chinese government perspectives on important political and cultural events such as China’s Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Confucius Institutes have been critiqued for repeatedly straying from their publicly declared key task of providing Mandarin Chinese language training and for venturing into deep ideological territory. There is mounting evidence that the institutes’ learning materials distort contemporary Chinese history and omit party-induced humanitarian catastrophes such as the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961) and the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) entirely. At Confucius Institute events, politically sensitive issues like Taiwan, Tibet, and Tiananmen cannot be publicly discussed either. In 2014, a conference in Braga, Portugal, that involved both the Confucius Institute headquarters and the Taiwan-based Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange as co-sponsors was unceremoniously interrupted by Confucius Institute headquarters chief Xu Lin. And under the conditions of the Seven Don’t Speak directive, mainland Chinese education workers are barred from talking about universal values, freedom of speech, civil society, civil rights, the historical errors of the CCP, official bourgeoisie, and judicial independence—even when overseas.

Stay tuned to Breitbart News for more updates on the Confucius Institute.

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