confucius institute

Human rights groups have urged Scottish universities to sever links with Chinese language centres that have sparked worldwide fears over academic freedom.

As the numbers have grown, so too has the concern of Western academics who believe the project presents a serious threat to freedom of thought and speech in education.

Since the first institute opened ten years ago, 475 Confucius Institutes and 851 smaller Confucius Classrooms have been established in 126 countries. These numbers raise concerns outside of China about the institute’s intentions, and have prompted some to consider the future of China’s most prominent and most controversial cultural diplomacy initiative.

This week, as the Nobel Peace Prize was formally handed to a teenage Pakistani activist and an Indian child-rights campaigner, a Chinese group issued an alternate award to the retired Cuban leader, long regarded by Western counterparts as a tyrant and Cold War nemesis.

Today, a House Committee will hold a hearing on the subject, “Is Academic Freedom Threatened by China’s Influence on U.S. Universities?” China’s aggressive promotion of its primary public diplomacy program in North America has recently captured headlines as U.S. and Canadian academics have begun to push back against what is felt to be undue influence from Beijing.

Students participate in a Chinese language competition in Michigan

An excerpt from CPD's interview with the Chief Executive of the Confucius Institute.

The Toronto District School Board’s vote to cancel plans for a Confucius Institute marks the latest setback for China’s language- and culture-based soft-power initiative.

While introducing Chinese language and culture to foreigners is a good idea, the aggressive attempt to do so via Confucius Institutes has proved problematic.