Peking [China]July 28 (ANI): The Confucius Institutes have been the subject of far more serious charges than being an instrument of propaganda.
With about 530 Confucius Institutes globally, these centers have come under heavy scrutiny for allegations of spying, espionage and academic censorship among other allegations, The HK Post reported.
These conspicuous institutes have often been called the Trojan Horse of China. They break into the gates of the nation without many realizing the bilateral damage in terms of the subversion of national security.
These groups of institutes are run by the office of the Chinese Language Council International, also known as Hanban, around the world.
In a nutshell, the Confucius Institute provides three modes of operation, including one run entirely from its Beijing headquarters.
Many Confucius Institutes in Europe and North America have been initiated through joint ventures with foreign universities offering courses in Chinese language and culture, The HK Post reported.
Attractive foreign grants to build infrastructure, courses and local Chinese instructors have led many famous universities to take up their joint partnership with the Confucius Institutes.
Yet there seems to be no denying the fact that these institutes are not only funded but also advised, administered and guided by the Chinese Communist Party.
In 2019, serious allegations of espionage against the head professor of the Confucius Institute affiliated with the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) led to the closure of the Confucius Institute in Belgium. Sweden and Denmark ended their local ties with Confucius Institutes in 2020, while Norway ended its local association in 2021. Sweden’s University of Helsinki also just recently decided to terminate its contract amid a series of espionage allegations against the institute, HK Post reported.
Among the serious concerns raised by the university were the academic censorship that led to the avoidance of topics on the Cultural Revolution, discussions of Taiwan, and atrocities committed by the CCP within the Chinese nation.
There are currently at least 190 institutes in the European Union where most of them are seen to be reviewing their partnerships.
Rishi Sunak, a promising candidate for the post of UK Prime Minister, has gone so far as to promise to ban all 30 of the Confucius Institutes operating in the country if elected to power.
These kinds of harsh statements and actions by European countries are a testimony to the danger these nations see in continuing to forge academic relations with the Chinese government, The HK Post reported.
In addition, the US has also cracked down on the funding these local partners receive from Chinese sources. As of 2022, the number of CIs in the United States has dropped to 18 from more than a hundred a few years ago.
On August 13, 2020, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated all Confucius Institutes as foreign delegations to the People’s Republic of China. The press release went on to state that the institutes “were an entity that furthered Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on American campuses and elementary and high school classrooms.
In March 2021, the House and Senate unanimously passed a bill that would cut federal funding to universities and colleges that do not comply with new oversight rules and regulations.
In 2018, the National Defense Authorization Act banned universities that host Confucius Institutes from receiving funding from the US Department of Defense.
More recently, a Harvard chemistry professor was convicted of lying about Chinese funding he received as part of his research work. These examples are some of many such cases where China and its set of Confucius Institutes have grown their tentacles in the academic world through their supposed soft power strategy.
The veil of using soft diplomacy to further its sinister ambitions has certainly not stood the test of time due to many of such institutes being seen for what they actually are, The HK Post reported.
It has become more important now than ever to proceed with caution regarding such initiatives as extensive allegations against Confucius Institutes have come to light in the recent past. (ANI)