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RFA: Many Confucius Institutes in the U.S. Are Closed or Plan to Close

Radio Free Asia reported that, as of the end of last year, at least 25 universities and school districts around the world had terminated their partnership with the Confucius Institute, resulting in the closure of 22 Confucius Institutes. In the U.S., in addition to the colleges that announced the closure of the Confucius Institute in 2018, the University of Chicago, Penn State University, and the University of Illinois in Champaign had previously closed their Confucius Institutes.

In the article, RFA quoted a statement from Doris Liu, who is the director of the documentary movie, “In The Name Of Confucius.” Liu stated that, although some schools have closed Confucius Institutes, they do not want to see a discontinuation of other cooperation with China because of that closure, including the recruitment of Chinese students. The real purpose behind the Confucius Institute is that it carries the public relations work of the Chinese government – using its soft power so that foreigners will form a friendly impression of China. In fact, Rachelle Peterson, director of research programs at the National Association of Scholars, conducted a survey of Confucius Institutes in 12 U.S. universities and found that the Confucius Institute and the university had signed a contract requiring the universities and their employees “not to damage” the reputation of the Confucius Institute. If they did so, it would terminate all cooperation.

In addition, political reasons also drove the re-examination of the Confucius Institute at American universities as the U.S. has been reassessing its policy towards China. The problems of the Confucius Institute are increasingly being exposed. The latest National Defense Authorization Act, which the U.S. passed in August of last year, stipulates that the Ministry of Defense shall not provide funds for Chinese programs of American universities that open Confucius Institutes unless the school submits and obtains relevant exemptions. There are 11 universities that receive such funding. As a result, several universities including the University of Rhode Island announced that they will close their Confucius Institutes.

Last month, the Confucius Institute American Center organized the first “American Confucius Alumni China Tour.” It invited outstanding students from the Confucius Institutes across the U.S. who had graduated in the past three years to come to Beijing and Chengdu for visits.

Source: Radio Free Asia, January 14, 2019