The Austrian newspaper Die Presse reported on May 14 that a spokesman for the Austrian military confirmed that civil servants have taken Chinese language courses at the Confucius Institute. In exceptional cases, teachers from the Confucius Institute also came to teach at an Austrian military base, such as the Theresian Military Academy in the Wiener Neustadt, a city south of Vienna.
Richard Trappl, the 70-year-old Austrian director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna, wrote to the newspaper that “the Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna can be considered as a language intermediary agency, such as the Cervantes Institute or the Berlitz Language School.” He declined multiple interview requests from the reporter. The newspaper reported that officials from the Austrian military also receive Chinese language training at the controversial institution. Sweden, also a member of the European Union, closed its last Confucius Institute back in April last year. Universities in the United States, Germany and Australia have also recently ended, suspended or renegotiated their cooperation with Confucius Institutes.
A spokesman for the Austrian military confirmed to the newspaper that officers are taking Chinese language courses at the Confucius Institute. In exceptional cases, CI teachers also have come to teach at the premises of the armed forces, for example at the Theresian Military Academy in the city of Wiener Neustadt. The newspaper mentioned that Austrian officers started to learn the Chinese language in 1997, when one military officer was sent to Beijing. At that time there was no Confucius Institute.
Beijing Foreign Studies University and the University of Vienna jointly established the Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna on September 25, 2006. It was the first Confucius Institute in the country,
In the past two years, two Austrian military employees received language training from the Confucius Institute and paid 7,900 euros. Several Sinologists told the newspaper that, even without the Confucius Institute, there are enough highly qualified native-speaking teachers in Vienna to conduct language courses on this scale.
In addition to the Austrian military, the Confucius Institute also taught at the country’s Academy of Diplomats. While the Austrian Foreign Ministry recruits future diplomats from the Academy, it has not sent staff to the Confucius Institute for language training. A spokesperson for the ministry said, “In line with the political positioning of the EU, Austria sees the People’s Republic of China not only as a partner and economic competitor, but also as a strategic adversary that advocates alternative models of governance.”
Source: Radio France International, May 16, 2021