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RFI: Thirteen Universities Shut Down Confucius Institute Program on Campus

Last year, the U.S. Department of Defense launched a Language Flagship program to provide funding for universities in the U.S. to develop Chinese language education. A federal law was passed to require that the funding for the program come from only one source. The universities must choose between the Pentagon and the Confucius Institutes for funding their Chinese Language education program. So far, 13 universities in the United States have chosen to close their Confucius Institute. It is expected that more Confucius Institutes at universities will close this year after their contracts expire.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz said the Confucius Institute has exposed American universities to the threat of spying and intellectual property theft, both of which have taken place at many universities. Cruz added an amendment to the US military spending bill last year stipulating that any university with a Confucius Institute could not also get the Chinese training funds from the Department of Defense.

After the opening of the first Confucius Institute at the University of Maryland in 2004, the number has expanded to more than 100 Confucius Institutes in the U.S. and more than 500 around the world. The Confucius Institute is considered to be China’s overseas expansion of soft power and supervision of Chinese students. It does not allow the discussion of sensitive issues such as democracy, human rights, Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan.

The deputy head of education at the University of Oregon, who recently closed their Confucius Institute, said that making choices between the two was painful, but they had to make a choice. The Department of Defense’s “Language Flagship Program” provides nearly $1 million a year for Chinese language programs.

Source: Radio France Internationale, July 19, 2019