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Thread: Confucius Institutes

  1. #1
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    Slightly OT

    ...or perhaps, this is the key to all this banter about soft power.
    China works hard to project soft power
    By Jaime A. FlorCruz, CNN
    March 30, 2012 -- Updated 0648 GMT (1448 HKT)

    It could be food -- Peking Duck, steamed dumplings and the like.

    Or kung fu -- Bruce Lee and his dazzling martial-arts skills or more recently Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

    Or the giant pandas -- those cuddly creatures as photographed in the nature reserves or as portrayed in the Hollywood blockbuster, "Kung Fu Panda."

    Or Yao Ming -- the other cuddly giant who, until he retired last year, won games and friends in the NBA.

    Stereotypical or not, these are some of China's "soft power" resources.

    In recent months, China has been on a "soft power" offensive to improve its national image and increase its global influence.
    The Olympics was very much a positive move in improving China's Soft Power
    said Scott Kronick, president for Ogilvy PR in North Asia

    China has hosted the 2008 Olympics and the Shanghai Expo in 2009 -- expensive events which, many experts say, helped enhance the "China brand."

    "The Olympics was very much a positive move in improving China's Soft Power," said Scott Kronick, president for Ogilvy PR in North Asia, which advises Chinese and overseas clients. "How the country responded to the Sichuan earthquake was another."

    There are long-term initiatives, too, such as the setting up of Confucius Institutes to promote the Chinese language and culture. Akin to Germany's Goethe Institut or the British Council, hundreds of these Confucius Institutes have been established in leading universities and colleges around the world.

    "There is a sense that soft power is growing, as more foreigners are aware of China's successes, get exposed more to its culture and have to consider China's views on a whole range of global issues," noted John Holden, Beijing-based adviser at Hill+Knowlton, a U.S. public relations company.

    Why China's obsession to project its "soft power"?

    Soft power, according to Harvard Kennedy School professor Joseph S. Nye, "is the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments."

    Nye cites three ways to affect the behavior of others:

    • You can coerce them with threats, using military power.

    • You can induce them with payments, using economic clout.

    • Or you can attract and co-opt them, using culture, diplomacy and other means and resources.

    "The latter is soft power -- getting others to appreciate you to the extent that their behavior is modified," explained Kronick of Ogilvy. "When the first two are exercised judiciously and are combined with the third, they create 'smart power.'"

    "The Chinese want to exercise greater soft power," Kronick added. "How they do this is an ongoing challenge and pursuit."

    As China becomes richer, modernizes its military and increasingly consumes greater global resources, experts see a growing global concern over China's rise as a global power.

    Optimists say China will turn into a benign power. Alarmists warn China is bound to emerge as an Evil Empire.

    In a white paper issued in 2005, China outlined its intentions to rise peacefully as a global power.

    "China did not seek hegemony in the past, nor does it and will not do so in the future when it gets stronger," the white paper said. "China's development will not pose a threat to anyone; instead it can bring more development opportunities and bigger markets for the rest of the world."

    But some public opinion polls show China's soft power offensive remains inadequate.

    A survey by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Projects last year noted a significant rise in positive views in a number of countries. However, across the 22 nations surveyed, the U.S. generally received more favorable marks than China.

    In the U.S., France, Germany, Spain and Japan, the survey showed, those who see China as the world's leading economic power believed this is a bad thing. Those who named the United States tended to think it is a good thing.

    Experts partly blame this on poor communications.

    Ahead of China's transition of leadership later this year, China has tightened its control of the media and continued its repression of dissent.

    "China hurts itself when it flouts its own laws and international norms on human rights," Holden said. "This tarnishes its image."

    "What they do wrong is that they traditionally have had a tendency to only want to project positive news, and this often is seen clouding the truth," Kronick noted.

    Zhao Qizheng, the former director of the State Council Information Office and an advocate of public diplomacy, acknowledges the limits of official propaganda.

    "For a long time, the international community has been cynical towards the traditional Chinese voice, believing that it's mostly official propaganda with political agenda, so it's not very credible and interesting," Zhao said in a recent online forum.

    Zhao admonished ordinary Chinese to engage in public diplomacy. "We Chinese should be good at storytelling, to use soft ways of communications to create the so-called 'China image,'" he said.

    Experts -- like James McGregor, a veteran China-watcher and senior counselor at APCO Worldwide, a public relations consulting company -- agree.

    "The Chinese students, the emigrants and business people who are scattered around the world -- and the Chinese individuals whom foreigners meet in China -- are the country's soft power. They have many friends and admirers who through them have great affection for the Chinese people, their incredible work ethic and accomplishments," he said.

    After 30 years of rapid economic and social changes, China struggles to project an international profile that befits the second biggest economy in the world.

    McGregor thinks China's dilemma is more deep-seated and long-term.

    "I think the world respects China's economic accomplishments and has great admiration for the Chinese people," he said. "But the Chinese government has almost no soft power in the world. You need a leading ideology that resonates with the world and a system of ethics and governing that people admire. China doesn't have that right now."
    Gene Ching
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  2. #2
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    More Soft Power

    Message and the medium
    Updated: 2012-04-06 08:42
    By Liu Lu, Wang Chao and Fu Jing (China Daily)

    Nation needs to mobilize its soft power resources to win more hearts, minds

    Kung fu, pandas or Peking opera are what one would commonly associate with China- but they are also vital cogs in a massive "soft power" exercise that China hopes will give it more global voice and an image makeover. It is also proving to be a tough challenge for policymakers, as the growth of the country's "soft power" has not been in tandem with that of its "hard power".

    Related readings:

    Message and the medium Theater of dreams
    Of the 50-odd theaters in Branson City, the White House Theatre is undoubtedly one of the most popular.

    Message and the medium Many miles to go for China
    German Sinologist says nation still has much to do in terms of cultural strides.

    Two views
    Message and the medium Plenty to admire about China
    Culture, diplomacy, arts can help China bridge differences with the West.

    Message and the medium Stress on culture has limitations
    China faces many challenges in its soft power project.

    So why all this brouhaha about "soft power", one may ask.

    The answer can be found in the realms of the foreign strategy of China that advocates peaceful coexistence along with robust economic growth.

    But with so many ingredients that make up the dish called "soft power", there are also doubts as to what should be the driving force for this collective vehicle. Policymakers believe that the real key to soft power lies in bolstering cultural productions and expanding the global cultural footprint.

    Lending further credence to this view is the statement made by Chinese President Hu Jintao in the first 2012 issue of Qiushi (Seeking Truth), a bi-monthly political theory periodical published by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Hu writes that cultural strength is the basis of China's soft power and competitiveness on the international stage.

    The opening of the first Confucius Institute in Seoul in 2004, or the expanding presence of Chinese media companies overseas, or even the ongoing first-ever Chinese Culture Year in Germany, are all indicative of the steps taken by China to spruce up its international image and soft power.

    "China should use culture as a diplomatic platform to enhance its image and project its soft power," China's Culture Minister Cai Wu said at a recent news conference.

    "There is no doubt that China has impressed the world with its booming economy. But that alone is not enough," says Yu Guoming, journalism professor at the Renmin University of China.

    Yu feels that Chinese decision-makers are now looking to give the world a better picture of China through the appeal of its culture. To some extent, this also explains the buzz of activity associated with the culture sector, he says.

    "Culture is fast emerging as the crucial indicator of China's competitiveness in the contemporary world."

    With China's influence growing steadily, the thrust for the future is not only to export more goods, but also showcase the life and culture of the nation to the rest of the world.

    According to information provided by the General Administration of Customs, in 2011, China's exports of cultural products hit a new high of $18.7 billion (14 billion euros), an increase of 22.2 percent over the previous year. Industry experts believe that this robust growth momentum will grow substantially in line with the nation's plans to boost its "soft power".

    "China wants to forge greater trust with the world, especially through more cultural exchanges, as it helps build the global image of a peaceful rising power," says Martyn Davies, chief executive of Frontier Advisory, a leading research and strategy firm from South Africa that specializes on the emerging markets.

    Davies says that China has one of the most ancient cultures in the world, and more cultural contacts will help the country learn international communication rules thereby reducing misunderstandings and stereotyped bias.

    "The world also has a curiosity and urge to better understand China rather than just its economic strength," Davies says.

    "Other countries' interests in China's politics and economy have inevitably extended to the cultural area."

    European connection

    Europe has been one of the vocal supporters of the Beijing strategy to boost soft power by expanding its cultural footprint.

    "Economic cooperation is not and cannot be the sole dimension of the EU-China relationship. That is why people-to-people contacts have been added to EU-China strategic partnership. Cultural exchanges are at the heart of this new dimension," says European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou.

    "Both Beijing and Brussels acknowledge the significant role of culture in international relations."

    Vassiliou says films, books, music and other cultural products, as well as their creators and performers, play an important role in the way nations perceive themselves and each other in today's interconnected world.

    "I am convinced that Europeans and Chinese still know too little about each other," Vassiliou says.

    For the cultural expansion strategy, China has chosen the legendary Chinese philosopher Confucius as its brand ambassador. The Beijing-based non-profit Confucius Institutes have emerged as China's most successful global brand for promoting Chinese language and culture.

    By the end of last year, there were about 358 Confucius Institutes and 500 Confucius classrooms in five continents, covering 105 countries and regions, with the number of registered students more than 50 million.

    Xu Lin, chief executive of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, says China's remarkable change has been the catalyst for the sudden global resurgence in Chinese culture and language.

    She says that at a time when most of the Western economies are reeling from financial problems, the Chinese growth engine has chugged along relatively smoothly, thereby sparking the curiosity to understand more about China and the Chinese way of thinking.

    Confucius thrust

    "Foreigners are puzzled by how much China could achieve economically in just 30 years. They are now more than keen to learn Chinese language and culture to get fresh perspectives and know more of the country," Xu says, adding that it has also been the motivator for many nations to set up Confucius Institutes.

    "In addition to obtaining language skills, people are also surprised to find that by using Eastern wisdom, many contradictions and conflicts can be solved as Chinese tradition always advocates harmony," Xu says.

    "Students taking classes at the Confucius Institutes feel that learning Chinese also increases their future employment opportunities," says Michael Kahn-Ackermann, senior adviser to the Confucius Institute.

    But more importantly, the Chinese language and culture training opportunities will help deepen intercultural understandings and thus soften China's image as a threat as it grows stronger both economically and politically.

    Confucius Institutes have helped trained more people in Chinese, which experts believe is also conducive to the expansion of other Chinese culture, particularly literature.
    continued next post
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    continued from previous

    Word power

    "Good translators are vital to take Chinese literary works to overseas markets," says Ya Ding, a famous Chinese author and the president of the Association for the Development of China-France Exchanges.

    In 1985, Ya was awarded the young translator prize by the French government for his Chinese translation of French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre's The Age of Reason.

    Ya knows well that literature is in fact the art of language. Over the past 27 years, Ya has been dedicated to literary creations in French. So far, he has completed seven French written books, all about China.

    His first such book entitled Le sorgho rouge has sold 500,000 copies as soon as it was published, and became a best-seller in France in 1987, and also won eight literary awards there.

    "People in Europe are keen on literature from China, but because of the lack of dissemination channels as well as the shortage of proficient translators, many of the best-selling books from China are relatively unknown in Europe," Ya says.

    To reverse the situation, both Chinese writers and publishers are looking to boost the global impact of Chinese literature as more language experts emerge.

    "The United States runs trade deficits in Sino-US merchandise trade, but in cultural products, China's deficit is even bigger. However, the situation is fast improving," says literary critic Zhang Qinghua, who is also head of the International Communication Center of Chinese Contemporary Literature at Beijing Normal University.

    He says China's best-selling books and works of well-known writers are becoming increasingly appealing to international publishers, because overseas readers would like to see more "stories" reflecting contemporary China.

    Statistics from the General Administration of Press and Publication shows China's imports to exports ratio of publication copyrights trade has slipped from 7.2:1 in 2005 to 3:1 in 2010.

    It also shows that to date more than 1,000 Chinese contemporary literary works have been translated into other languages since China's reform and opening-up, of which more than 90 percent are novels and fictions.

    The Chinese government has also stepped up efforts in this promotion campaign.

    China's flagship literature magazine, People's Literature, launched an English version in November, marking a milestone in Chinese contemporary literature tapping into overseas audiences.

    China Publishing Group, China's largest State-sponsored publishing conglomerate, exported 544 book copyrights in 2011 compared with 243 in 2006, an increase of more than 124 percent. The group has also established tie-ups with more than 60 publishing houses in 30 countries and regions.

    "China should rely on publishers in developed countries who have rich international publishing experience to co-publish books about the nation to have more wide-ranging effects," Zhang says.

    Literary works are more vivid to present the ecological structure of Chinese society, and to make others better understand the great social changes that have taken place in the last 30 years after China's reform and opening-up.

    "The same results cannot be achieved through diplomatic channels," Zhang says.

    Performance matters

    Like literature, performing arts has also played an indispensable role in consolidating China's soft power.

    In 2005, the Ministry of Culture issued a notice encouraging performing arts troupes to take an active part in international competitions and cooperation, as well as further promote the exports of commercial performances.

    But after seven years' of efforts, the major problem for China's performing groups is reaching out to the Western mainstream audience.

    While some companies are still searching for answers, some early birds have reaped the benefits.

    Set up in 1991, Wu Promotion has been one of China's pioneering performing arts companies and event organizers. Every year the company organizes more than 300 concerts and events in Europe, and is one of the most successful private enterprises to take classical Chinese performance overseas.

    "Europe's mainstream society does not exclude a foreign culture, but we should wisely choose our products," says Wu Jiatong, manager of the company.

    "A good product not only meets the audience tastes but also passes profound cultural connotations."

    "For example, if you stage Peking Opera in Italy, apart from a perfect show on stage, you also need to inform the audience off stage that like Italian opera, Peking Opera is the national opera of China and also an ancient performing art," he says.

    After expanding its business operations to Europe and the Middle East, Wu Promotion is poised to enter the US market in 2014.

    "It is a gradual process for China's performances to enter mainstream Western society, and may take the efforts of several generations."

    "We hope in the near future we cannot only see China-made clothes and shoes in New York, Paris or London, but also people lining up to buy theater tickets for Chinese performing arts."

    Big disappointment

    Film, one of China's most important soft power ingredients, has not seen the kind of success that policymakers envisaged nor has it made box-office waves.

    While China's domestic box office revenue has climbed to new highs in the past few years, directors and producers are facing an embarrassing situation of receiving hardly any attention in the Western markets.

    Sergei Vladimirovich Bodrov, a two-time Academy Award-nominated Russian-American film director, uses a metaphor to say that Chinese filmmakers need to learn proper story-telling languages that are accepted by the West.

    "Filmmakers are like street musicians - you have to attract passers-by in a few seconds to let them throw money to you."

    But some insiders are optimistic that Chinese filmmakers may soon make major breakthroughs.

    China Lion Film Distribution Inc, a film distributor in North America and New Zealand, has been partnering with two top film production companies in China, Huayi Bros and Bona, to screen Chinese films in major US cities since 2010.

    The company chooses 12 to 15 Chinese films every year to exclusively screen them in the US and Canada, with about 20 to 37 screens dedicated to these films all year long in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

    Joshua Lo, marketing coordinator of China Lion, says the audiences are mainly overseas Chinese, "but if the film is unique such as including historical topics, local Western audiences would show interest, too".

    Since 2010 when the screenings began, the influence of Chinese films has been growing, Lo says, and he estimated that in three to five years, Chinese films will make major breakthroughs in overseas markets.

    "Some avant-garde film directors like Jia Zhangke have already established themselves at the international film festivals. So we just need to keep trying."

    He says it is a good sign that more and more Chinese films are participating in international festivals.

    Some film insiders point out that the importance of developing China's film industry is not just to earn bigger box office receipts.

    "The biggest meaning of Hollywood films is that every year, thousands of millions of people around the world watch them, through which they learn about American values, culture and way of life," says Zhou Tiedong, president of China Film Promotion International, a government organization designated to promote Chinese films.

    However, as more Chinese cultural products make inroads in the overseas markets, there should also be awareness that such kind of products need a longer time for success.

    "Cultural products cannot be exported in the same way as we export cars or financial services. Hard-sell promotion campaigns do not necessarily deliver results," Vassiliou says.

    "In the cultural sector, the relationship between nations is crucial for creating interest, and therefore market opportunities."

    Contract the writers through liulu@chinadaily.com.cn
    I might split this notion of Soft Power off into its own thread. It's a fascinating concept and relates directly to China's notion of internal arts. It's an issue that Peter Lorge and I were skirting in part two of my recent interview with him: Peter Lorge on CHINESE MARTIAL ARTS: FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY Part 2
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    More on the Confucius Institute

    I may just split this off into its own indie thread. Chinese news has been atwitter about the U.S. closings, but the PRC is now refuting it.

    China denies closing US Confucius institutes
    Monday, 30 May 2016 PTI



    Beijing: China's Confucius Institute, commonly known as Hanban and projecting the country's soft power abroad, has refuted online reports that all of its 109 branches in the US were shut down, saying all institutes are functioning "normally".

    "All 109 Confucius Institutes in the US are operating normally, and not a single institute has been shut down," official media reported here, quoting a Hanban statement.

    The statement slammed an article allegedly posted by WeChat account "Jinwen365" as "completely fabricated and wrong."

    China has about 500 Confucius institutes all around the world which focus on Chinese language teaching and culture. The institutes have come under criticism in the US and western countries for restricting academic freedom and advancing China's political policy like Taiwan being part of China.

    An accusatory article, which has been reposted by the official WeChat accounts of several influential individuals last week, also noted that the institute has been suffering from huge financial losses caused by lack of transparency in its operations and financial management, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

    Deriving its name from the renowned Chinese educator and philosopher Confucius, who lived from 551 BC to 479 BC, the Confucius Institutes are non-profit institutions affiliated with China's Ministry of Education.

    Their mission is primarily to promote Chinese language and culture at schools and universities throughout the world projecting China's soft power.

    China had opened 500 Confucius Institutes and 1,000 Confucius classrooms in 135 countries as of the end of 2015, according to the latest annual development report released by Hanban.

    The headquarters had spent USD 310 million on all Confucius Institutes and classrooms worldwide last year, including USD 228 million on operational funds.

    A total of 1.9 million people are studying Chinese language and culture in 500 Confucius Institutes and 1,000 Confucius classrooms in 134 countries, Wang Yongli, deputy chief of Hanban, had said last year.

    (Follow us on Twitter @NTChennai)
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    In the Name of Confucius

    Confucius Institutes need its own thread, distinct from the Soft, soft and MORE SOFT thread I hijacked for it.



    CONFUCIUS INSTITUTES: CHINA’S BENIGN OUTREACH OR SOMETHING MORE SINISTER?
    A new documentary paints the image of a non-profit organisation using the guise of education to subvert academic freedom worldwide; others see it as a benign introduction to the Middle Kingdom’s culture, from Chinese food to tai chi
    BY ALEX LO
    14 JUL 2018



    Soft power or sharp power? It’s almost inevitable that such catchy phrases are being used to describe the phenomenal worldwide spread of China’s Confucius Institutes in the past two decades. At last count, they have been set up in more than 140 countries and territories around the world, raising alarm among people already critical of China’s rise and global reach.

    Are those institutes benign vehicles for China’s projection of soft power to promote its language and culture, and to improve its international image; or Trojan horses sent to subvert academic freedom and autonomy of teaching institutions at their host countries, and perhaps even to spy on people and recruit agents?


    For Doris Liu, a Chinese-Canadian journalist and filmmaker, it’s clearly the latter.

    “First, there is the human rights discrimination. Second, it’s academic independence,” she said in an interview with This Week in Asia. “Our fundamental values are at risk or damaged. The institutes teach propaganda by sneaking it into our campuses.”

    After an investigation over three years, Liu has produced In the Name of Confucius, a new hour-long documentary that claims to expose such threats posed by the institutes in Canada, the United States and elsewhere.


    Doris Liu conducts an interview for her documentary film 'In the Name of Confucius'. Photo: Doris Liu

    However, you cannot get a more different response from famed US sinologist David Shambaugh, hardly an apologist for China.

    “I see them as quite benign and devoted to their primary mission of teaching language and cultural studies,” he told a panel at the Brookings Institution in March. “Whether it’s film, cooking, tai chi, whatever.”

    He said the concept of soft power was coined by US political scientist Joseph Nye in the late 1980s, but more recently the term sharp power, which is used to describe manipulative diplomatic policies, has emerged.

    “I personally am still trying to wrap my brain around this term and that concept and whether it applies to China, with a question mark.


    David Shambaugh. Photo: internet

    “My sense is that it does not apply yet to China. What I see China doing is more what I would call public diplomacy with Chinese characteristics or journalism with Chinese characteristics,” said Shambaugh, who is director of the China Policy Programme at George Washington University.

    Whether it’s foreign aid across Africa, investment in South America, or the Belt and Road Initiative, every global move made by contemporary China has come under intense scrutiny and criticism.

    The Confucius Institutes have been no different. In many ways, the controversy has been worse since the first institute was opened in South Korea in 2004.

    In April, Texas A&M University became the latest North American institution to end its partnership with a Confucius Institute under a cloud of controversy. There have been others over the years worldwide, in countries such as Sweden, France, Germany and Denmark.


    Undergraduate student Moe Lewis, left, shows her watercolour painting of peony leaves at a traditional Chinese painting class at the Confucius Institute at George Mason University in Fairfax, US. Photo: AP

    Despite the often sensational news reports about the closing of Confucius Institutes at those schools, it all amounts to a closure rate of less than 3 per cent, and it’s hard to generalise why it did not work out at schools in those nations.

    Liu studied the cases of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and the Toronto District School Board, the largest school board in Canada, which were the primary focus of her documentary.

    In the Name of Confucius has been headlined or featured in indie and documentary film festivals in Canada, Taiwan and the US, and at a human rights forum in Tokyo. It paints a sympathetic portrayal of Sonia Zhao, a Falun Gong follower and former institute teaching assistant whose human rights complaint with Ontario authorities helped shut down the institute at McMaster in 2013.

    But in an interview with This Week in Asia, Zhao admitted her intention, and the goal of her Falun Gong supporters, was to shut down the institute from the start rather than simply addressing her personal grievances.

    “We wrote to McMaster at first to shut it down, but they didn’t reply, so the tribunal [the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario] was the last option,” she said.


    Protesters rally against the so-called contamination from the Confucius Institute in Toronto, Canada. Photo: Doris Liu

    “I hope this could (have) a chain effect on other universities in Canada, and was hoping they could shut down too.”

    After working a year at the institute, Zhao brought a complaint against the university to the tribunal. The bone of contention concerned a clause in her contract with Hanban, the Chinese national office responsible for the worldwide operations of the organisation and which is part of the mainland’s Ministry of Education.

    It states that mainland instructors such as Zhao were hired to teach the Chinese language overseas and could not engage in “illegal activities”, such as being a member of the outlawed Falun Gong religious group. Her complaint alleged discrimination on the grounds of creed, which is illegal in Canada.
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    Continued from previous post


    Sonia Zhao, a Falun Gong follower, filed a human rights complaint against the Confucius Institute in Ontario, Canada. Photo: Doris Liu

    “I was not on my own, I had a lot of people helping me [with the case]. I gave them what I could give,” she said. When asked who “they” were, she admitted they were Falun Gong members in Ontario.

    At the time of her hiring on the mainland, she was a postgraduate student specialising in teaching Chinese as a second language.

    She taught a year at the institute at McMaster until her contract expired. The tribunal case that followed led to a settlement between Zhao and the university. Its details were never disclosed, but shortly after the two sides settled, the university shut down the institute. Zhao also filed successfully for residency in Canada as a refugee on the grounds that she faced persecution if she returned to China.


    Sonia Zhao, a former instructor for the Confucius Institute, said she was trained to avoid politically sensitive subjects such as the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989. Photo: Reuters

    In speaking to This Week in Asia, she claims the institute was engaged in spreading “propaganda” in that only positive views of Chinese culture and China were allowed to be presented and instructors were trained to avoid politically sensitive topics such as Tibet, Taiwan independence and the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

    The institutes focus on teaching Mandarin, Chinese cooking and calligraphy, and celebrating Chinese culture – as sanctioned by the communist state. Many continue to operate across Canada, despite the McMaster case and a statement in 2013 issued by the Canadian Association of University Teachers calling on all tertiary institutions in cut ties with the organisation.

    Most have resisted. Many public schools across Canada also have “Confucius classrooms”, which operate on a smaller scale than the institutes.

    However, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) decided not to proceed at the last minute with Confucius classrooms. In 2014, the board was ready to roll out its own programme until a public campaign forced the board to drop the initiative. Former board chairman Chris Bolton, who backed the partnership, had to resign. The board also had to refund the Chinese more than C$200,000 (US$152,000) as an advance subsidy.


    A protest against the Tornto District School Board’s affiliation with the Confucius Institutes. Photo: Doris Liu

    The successful campaign, in which Zhao and other Falun Gong members took part, is included in the film In the Name of Confucius. Of particular interest is a statement presented to TDSB by Michel Juneau-Katsuya, former head of the Asia-Pacific division of the Canadian government’s Security Intelligence Services. It was full of the most alarming allegations, though no evidence was offered to support his claims, other than his own “professional” experience.

    “The Chinese Government and especially the Chinese Intelligence Services are behind this project and these groups,” he said.

    “Confucius Institutes have been at the forefront of that intelligence war. To understand the true intentions behind Beijing politics, it is necessary to comprehend how a language school fits into their master plan.”

    This included recruiting spies, cultivating agents of influence and the monitoring of dissidents in the Chinese diaspora.



    There appears to be a good deal of hysterics and rhetoric against Confucius Institutes in Canada and elsewhere, and because of the global backlash, those institutes often clam up instead of becoming more open and transparent. For example, the Confucius Institute of Toronto and Seneca College did not respond to multiple requests for an interview and comment for this article.

    The institutes and their host institutions might have run a smoother public relations operation. After all, Shambaugh estimated China spent US$311 million in 2015 on the language and culture programme, amounting to US$2 billion over 12 years. There are about 5,000 Confucius instructors teaching almost 1.4 million students worldwide. Each institute is provided, usually free of charge, with trained mainland instructors, reading materials and about US$100,000 a year.


    A Nigerian student learns to write “I love my home” at the Confucius Institute of the University of Lagos. Photo: Xinhua

    China could be spending more than US$10 billion a year on its overall soft power push, Shambaugh said.

    Other countries, of course, have state-supported institutions that promote their own language, culture and image: British Councils, France’s Alliance Française, Germany’s Goethe Institute, Italy’s Dante Alighieri Society and Spain’s Cervantes Institute. There is no doubt that those long-standing Western cultural institutions were the original model for Confucius Institutes. But there are several key differences.

    While those western institutions take funding directly from their national governments, they operate mostly independently. They also own or rent their premises, classrooms and offices.

    But Confucius Institutes deliberately embed their operations and teachings within the host country’s universities, colleges and/or public schools by partnering with them. Local instructors are rarely hired, preferring instead those trained and contracted on the mainland before sending them overseas.

    The institutes are globally managed by the Hanban, which is part of the Ministry of Education and is headed by Xu Lin, a vice-minister-level official who sits on the State Council. Such tight control has raised suspicions among those critical of the Chinese government.


    Though the terms of her settlement were not made public, the Confucius institute ceased operations in Toronto after Sonia Zhao filed her complain. Photo: Sonia Zhao

    Not all China specialists are so suspicious, though.

    “On Confucius Institutes, it’s a subject I’ve followed very closely,” Shambaugh said.

    “There’s a kind of McCarthyite undertone I sense that is there … I thus far don’t see evidence that they are being politicised. There have been a couple of cases – there’s certainly a lot of publications, a lot of controversy. There have been a couple of closures … But there are nearly 200 Confucius Institutes in the United States. We’ve had less than five controversies, that tells me one thing.

    “Secondly, there’s a lot of assumptions and innuendo I find in the reporting. One assumption is that a Confucius Institute … somehow affects the curriculum of Chinese studies the way China is taught on campus: absolutely wrong.

    “There’s a complete firewall between Confucius Institutes that teach language and the Chinese – the rest of the faculty and the curriculum on every university campus, across the country. So they have no impact on how Chinese studies are taught, so that’s a flawed assumption that a lot of journalists leap to. They tend to take a couple anecdotal cases and string it together and say here’s a case.”

    Shambaugh recommends greater transparency in the way the institutes are operated jointly with their host universities. He said oversight meant the host institution needed to make sure Chinese employment contract conditions did not conflict with the laws of host countries.

    RELATED ARTICLES
    “The contracts between recipient universities and the Hanban are kept confidential by request of the Hanban,” he said. “It’s kept under lock and key in the president’s office of the university. That’s not appropriate.” ■
    It's really all about Soft Power. The Falun Gong angle is fascinating.
    Gene Ching
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  7. #7
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    FG will oppose anything that is China friendly.

    As a comparison, the allure of the american dream is the source of America's soft power. Or in my country, the example is tolerance and compassion as the vehicle for soft power.

    Bearing in mind that not a lick of it is true without the effort of the individual being made true.
    IE: There is no American dream per se and Canadians are not necessarily polite and tolerant.
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  8. #8
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    I know I never said it overtly...

    ...but I had a feeling something like this was coming...

    SFSU shutters popular Chinese cultural program under pressure from feds
    Photo of Nanette Asimov
    Nanette Asimov Aug. 5, 2019 Updated: Aug. 5, 2019 8:45 a.m.


    3Yenbo Wu, associate vice president for international education at SFSU and former Confucius Institute head.Photo: Photos by Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle


    The popular Confucius Institute was partially funded by the Chinese government to promote language instruction and Chinese culture.Photo: Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle


    Charles Egan (left), director of SFSU’s Department of Languages and Literatures, and Yenbo Wu, former director of the Confucius Institute, which closed after an ultimatum from the Department of Defense.Photo: Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle

    A federal crackdown on a network of Chinese-funded programs operating on nearly 100 U.S. college campuses led San Francisco State to shutter its Confucius Institute recently, while Stanford University’s remains in business.

    For 14 years, San Francisco State’s Confucius Institute offered free Mandarin classes to employees, taught the language to thousands of kids and teachers across Northern California, hosted contests for the city school district, and delivered no fewer than 25,000 presentations on Chinese culture, the university said. It also ran an exchange program with the Beijing Normal University.

    “It was such a wonderful thing we had,” said Yenbo Wu, associate vice president for international education on campus, and the institute’s former director. “You feel bad.”

    San Francisco State’s program opened in 2005, among the nation’s first. More than 500 now operate around the world, a 2019 federal study shows. Typically, they offer non-credit Mandarin classes and cultural exchanges jointly funded by China and their university hosts.

    But an ultimatum from the Department of Defense led eight universities from Hawaii to Rhode Island, including San Francisco State, to end their Confucius Institutes this year. They got the warning because the campuses also host a Defense Department “Chinese Language Flagship Program,” a rigorous, five-year course intended to cultivate Mandarin-fluent students for careers in national security and other government work.

    The department said it would pull Flagship funding unless the campuses shut down their Confucius Institutes.

    San Francisco State is the only California campus with a Defense Department Chinese Flagship program. The warning arrived Nov. 13, with an invitation to apply for a waiver that required providing copies of Confucius Institute documents. But after San Francisco State sent the documents, word came in April that no waivers would be granted.

    “It is not in the national interest,” the letter said. The campus closed its Confucius Institute May 6.

    The Defense Department did not respond to requests for comment, and offered San Francisco State no additional explanation for its ultimatum. It said only that “no Department funds will be used to support a Chinese language program at an institution of higher education that hosts a Confucius Institute.” The prohibition also appears in the department’s 2019 budget.

    The crackdown comes at a time of rising tension between the two countries, from the ongoing trade war to government fears of Chinese espionage in academia. This spring, news reports revealed that the FBI has been urging research universities for at least a year to track visitors from Chinese schools. This week, National Public Radio reported that FBI agents have asked graduates of Peking University’s Yenching Academy if they’ve been recruited to spy.

    The FBI has also kept an eye on the Confucius Institutes “for a while,” the agency’s director, Christopher Wray, told a Senate intelligence committee hearing on Russian threats to U.S. elections last year.

    The institutes have long attracted criticism from politicians — usually but not always conservatives — who call them part of China’s propaganda effort. Some professor organizations have also said they interfere with academic freedom.

    Stanford’s 10-year-old Confucius Institute consists of an endowed professorship in Chinese culture, two graduate fellowships and a conference and event fund. It was funded in 2009 by a $4 million gift from the Chinese Ministry of Education’s Confucius Institute office, known as Hanban, and matched by Stanford.

    “Because the Hanban contribution is an irrevocable gift, they have no leverage to infringe on academic freedom at Stanford, nor have they tried,” said E.J. Miranda, a Stanford spokesman.

    Inside Higher Education, a news publication, has tracked the Confucius Institute story for years. When Stanford’s program was set up, it quoted a Hanban official worrying that the endowed professor might discuss “politically sensitive things, such as Tibet.” A Stanford official responded that the university would not restrict free speech, and said, “Hanban did not walk away.”

    More common is San Francisco State’s model, with a variety of cultural and educational programs. The campus split the $390,000 annual cost with Hanban.

    The Confucius Institute’s most public example of censorship happened in 2014 at a conference of the European Association of Chinese Studies in Portugal. Hanban’s director, Xu Lin, reportedly had five pages removed from conference materials for referring to “Taiwanese” universities and a foundation.

    The American Association of University Professors had already called on universities to end confidential contracts with Hanban and renegotiate those that ceded control over academic decisions to China. San Francisco State was among those that did so, said Wu.

    “We just updated our agreements before we had to close,” he said.

    Scattered other universities have closed their Confucius Institutes after political pressure.

    Last year, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, pushed five campuses in his state to close their Confucius Institutes for being “a tool to expand the political influence” of China. Four complied. And U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., urged Tufts University and UMass Boston to do the same. UMass Boston complied. Tufts did not.

    Wu said his institute at San Francisco State was free of such influence. “These are not valid criticisms — the idea that this is a propaganda machine telling people to believe in the Chinese government,” he said. “That’s absolutely not the case.”

    Charles Egan, a professor of Chinese and director of the government’s Flagship Program at San Francisco State, said it was “truly a shame that the law did not allow” the programs to coexist.

    “It is undeniable that they are an instrument of Chinese ‘soft power,’” he said of the Confucius Institutes. “That is potentially a concern, yet neither I nor any of my colleagues in the Chinese program here ever noted even a trace of the actions and behaviors” ascribed to them.

    Instead, he said, the institute “did fine work, had a positive impact, and will be missed.”

    Nanette Asimov is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: nasimov@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @NanetteAsimov


    NanetteAsimov
    Nanette Asimov covers California’s public universities — the University of California and California State University — as well as community colleges and private universities. You can find out what university leaders are up to, what's next for students and faculty, and what the latest breaking news is in on California campuses.

    Previously, Nanette covered K-12 education for 20 years. Her stories led to changes in charter school laws, prompted a ban on Scientology in California public schools, and exposed cheating and censorship in testing. A past president of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Northern California chapter, Nanette has a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.
    We'll see when Stanford closes. Last week Stanford shut down all its martial arts programs but I think that's unrelated to this.
    Gene Ching
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  9. #9
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    crack down on Confucius

    Senators pressure their universities to drop Confucius Institutes as threat to America
    AUDREY FAHLBERG - UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA •AUGUST 20, 2019



    ‘The soft underbelly here in our society is academia and research’

    Federal lawmakers are ramping up pressure on Confucius Institutes hosted by American colleges, even as some of the schools close or announce plans to shutter the Chinese-funded organizations.

    Following up on a June op-ed by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, last month Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri pressed two institutions in his state to reconsider their relationships with foreign actors.

    At least two bills are circulating in the Senate, one by Grassley, that would crack down on Confucius Institutes in America as part of a broader push to curtail foreign influence.

    Several members of the veteran senator’s staff even met with the University of Iowa recently to urge it to cut ties with its Confucius Institute on the university’s campus. “We made our concerns clear to the university representatives, but we have not heard back from them yet,” a staffer from Grassley’s office told The College Fix.

    “From an unclassified standpoint, there are a number of countries that have focused their attention on U.S. academic research and U.S. universities and colleges,” the staffer continued.

    But compared to other countries, the Chinese have been dominating America’s academic space under the radar, he said: “They are using a lot of nontraditional means to collect information, and the soft underbelly here in our society is academia and research.”

    A ‘fairly significant pattern of espionage’

    Often described as Chinese cultural centers, Confucius Institutes are funded by China’s communist regime. Several lawmakers have identified them as vessels through which China can engage in nontraditional intelligence collection, obtain taxpayer-funded research, and spread communist propaganda on American campuses

    The National Association of Scholars, one of the most vocal critics of the institutions, has documented 90 Confucius Institutes operating in the United States as of July.

    But the public criticism appears to be making administrators think reconsider the value proposition of the institutions.

    Three Florida universities alone shuttered their institutions last year, as did Texas A&M University. President Trump signed a law last summer that bans defense funding for Chinese-language programs at colleges that host the institutions and requires colleges to make public their agreements with Confucius Institutes.

    That pace is not fast enough for some senators.

    Prompted by the testimony of FBI Director Christopher Wray last month, Sen. Hawley asked Missouri’s two hosts of Confucius Institutes to “reconsider the costs and risks that come with” their campus presence and “with entering any other agreements with the Chinese government.”

    In letters to the University of Missouri and Webster University, he accused the public and private universities of complicity in “China’s efforts to spread propaganda, suppress academic freedom, and threaten the national security of the United States.”

    The freshman Republican cited Wray’s testimony that the institutes have a “fairly significant pattern of espionage” at their academic hosts, and that they offer a platform for China to spread propaganda, “to encourage censorship, to restrict academic freedom, et cetera.”

    He noted that institute partners “sign contracts that prohibit them from ‘tarnishing the reputation’ of Hanban,” the Chinese sponsor of the institutes, “and Hanban sends teachers and textbooks from China that are designed to promote a positive image of the [People’s Republic of China] and suppress any discussion of the ‘three Ts’: Tibet, Taiwan, and Tiananmen Square.”

    The universities can expect the scrutiny of three Senate committees, including Hawley’s Small Business Committee, if they continue hosting the institutes, he said.

    Vanessa Miller
    @VanessaMiller12
    Grassley warns 'foreign thieves' targeting University of Iowa - He cites concerns over China's ties to #UI Confucius Institute. https://www.thegazette.com/subject/n...-iowa-20190603 … via @gazettedotcom


    Grassley warns 'foreign thieves' targeting University of Iowa
    IOWA CITY - Using his status as leader of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee to hold a hearing this week on the threats that 'foreign thieves' pose to American taxpayer-funded research, Iowa Republi...

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    DOJ stuck with sending ‘a please and thank you letter’

    Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas offered his own solution for Chinese influence over American institutions with last year’s Stop Higher Education Espionage and Theft Act.

    Grassley followed early this summer. Shortly after penning an op-ed about the foreign threat to taxpayer-funded research, including from Confucius Institutes, he introduced the Foreign Agents Disclosure and Registration Enhancement Act.

    Co-sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, John Cornyn, Jeanne Shaheen, Marco Rubio and Todd Young, it would amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act to enhance disclosure requirements for monetary relationships between foreign actors and domestic institutions.

    FARA has been on the books since 1938 but federal agencies have failed to strictly enforce its provisions, according to Grassley. He says it contains numerous exemptions and loopholes that allow many financial relationships between foreign actors and domestic institutions to go undocumented.

    Grassley’s staffer told The Fix the bill is “aimed at FARA issues across the board,” from tightening existing FARA regulations to improving the investigative tools that are legally available to the Department of Justice.

    MORE: U.S. finally investigating secret foreign funding of American universities

    Because DOJ currently lacks civil investigative demand authority, if the agency has reason to believe that a domestic entity is dodging FARA requirements, “the only thing DOJ can do is send a letter of inquiry,” the staffer said.

    That is “basically a please and thank you letter asking for documents or anything the entity would be willing to share with the department to help the department determine whether that institution is registered under FARA,” the staffer continued. The FARA reform bill gives DOJ authority to compel disclosures such as documents, records and testimony.

    It also requires DOJ to “take a fresh look at all of the existing exemptions and reassess whether those exemptions are working as intended,” including the scholastic exemption, the staffer said.

    Foreign influence over domestic institutions extends far beyond Confucius Institutes. Although Grassley’s bill could allow for further investigation of universities hosting Confucius Institutes, it is mostly aimed at targeting lobbying efforts and public relations campaigns that are being influenced by foreign agents.

    Senator Hawley Press Office

    @SenHawleyPress
    MU’s Confucius Institute is a tool for communist propaganda, a “threat to academic freedom” and a “danger to our national defense,” and the university should cut ties with it, Sen. Josh Hawley, said in a Wednesday letter to Chancellor Alexander Cartwright. https://www.columbiamissourian.com/n...7f7f35306.html


    Hawley calls for MU to cut ties with the Confucius Institute
    The program, which operates at universities across the country and has been at MU since 2011, has been under investigation by the FBI for possible espionage.

    columbiamissourian.com
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    ‘The law is outdated and full of loopholes’

    Of the many exemptions included in FARA, one the most problematic for lawmakers has exempted “Any person engaging or agreeing to engage only in activities in furtherance of bona fide religious, scholastic, academic, or scientific pursuits or of the fine arts.”

    Scrutiny of FARA regulations goes beyond the political sphere. Rachelle Peterson, director of research at the National Association of Scholars, told The Fix “it has been assumed that all foreign-funded campus centers are bona fide academic programs.”

    But this assumption is dangerous because “Confucius Institutes are tools of propaganda for the Chinese government, which has invested heavily into building a network of influence across American academia,” she wrote in an email.

    Federal law requires disclosure of annual gifts above $250,000 from a foreign source to colleges, “but the law is outdated and full of loopholes,” Peterson said. In order to increase transparency of relationships between domestic institutions and foreign donors, Peterson argues the law should lower the threshold to $50,000 and compel the disclosure of “the name of the donor … along with any strings attached to the gifts.”

    Beyond those provisions, Peterson also suggests that “anyone registered under FARA as a foreign agent should be subject to the same foreign gift disclosure requirements, to prevent foreign parties from running gifts through US-based agents.”

    IMAGE: AlexLMX/Shutterstock
    I've always been skeptical of Confucius Institutes but I've never dealt with them directly, only heard things peripherally. We'll see how this all pans out.
    Gene Ching
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    Why this matters...

    The Confucius Institute has been a major promoter of CMA for years. Honestly, it's the only reason they've come to my attention.

    So when does CMA come under scrutiny? Maybe it has begun already...

    From Customs to Kung Fu: the Confucius Institute's Annual Chinese Summer Camp
    Aug. 20, 2019


    Confucius Institute Camp Summer 2019

    Through arts and crafts, music and martial arts, campers learned about the rich history and culture of China through various traditions.
    The Confucius Institute at Webster University held its annual Chinese Summer Camp Aug. 5-9 in the Sunnen Lounge at the Webster Groves campus. The camp provided children with rich exposure to Chinese language and culture over the course of the week.

    Campers began each day with a Chinese lesson. After receiving Chinese names, they learned how to introduce themselves and talk about their family and things they like.

    The children also learned about various Chinese traditions through crafts such as making mooncakes as they learned about the Mid-Autumn Festival.

    From Customs to Kung Fu: the Confucius Institute's Annual Chinese Summer Camp
    One of the most well-received activities was Kung Fu. Kung Fu master Xing Xue instructed campers in Kung Fu for an hour each day and taught them about physical fitness and respect, core tenets of the Kung Fu tradition.

    On the last day of camp, parents were invited to a final show where the children demonstrated everything they learned throughout the week. They began with a fashion show of traditional Chinese clothing, followed by a linguistic performance in which they introduced themselves and sang in Chinese. Soon after, the lights were dimmed for a shadow puppet display that took viewers through traditional Chinese tales. The day rounded out with a Kung Fu demonstration.

    The Confucius Institute would like to thank Webster University senior Aria Langer for all her help creating and running this year’s camp. We hope all the campers learned a lot, and above all, had fun!
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  11. #11
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    "a bridge reinforcing friendship"

    Confucius Institutes: The growth of China's controversial cultural branch
    By Pratik Jakhar
    BBC Monitoring
    7 September 2019


    GETTY IMAGES
    Concerns are growing about Chinese influence on academic campuses around the world

    According to China, its Confucius Institute is "a bridge reinforcing friendship" between it and the world.

    But to its critics the government-run body - which offers language and cultural programmes overseas - is a way for Beijing to spread propaganda under the guise of teaching, interfere with free speech on campuses and even to spy on students.

    In recent weeks, a flurry of universities around the world have shut down programmes operated by the institute. And in Australia, an investigation is even under way into whether agreements between universities and the institute have broken anti-foreign interference laws.

    Pushing a 'Confucius revolution'

    Open to the general public, Confucius Institutes promote Chinese language but also run classes in culture, from calligraphy and cooking to tai chi. They sponsor educational exchanges and hold public events and lectures.

    The first CI opened in 2004 in South Korea, and according to official data there were 548 Confucius Institutes around the world by the end of last year, as well as 1,193 Confucius classrooms based in primary and secondary schools.

    Shikha Pandey, a CI teacher at the University of Mumbai in India, tells the BBC they get students from all sorts of backgrounds including the IT industry, business, college students and retirees.

    "They only come with a clear motive to learn Chinese language in order to boost their professional skills," she says.

    The CIs are joint ventures between the host university or school, a partner university in China, and Hanban, a controversial agency under China's education ministry. It oversees CI operations and provides partial funding, staff and other support.

    Backed by significant government funding, China aims to have 1,000 such institutes by 2020 in what it calls a "Confucius revolution" to tap into the growing overseas demand to learn Chinese.

    Culture or propaganda?

    The Hanban website says all institutes must abide by the CI constitution, and not participate in activities that are inconsistent with their "missions".

    Ms Pandey, from the CI in Mumbai, said she had not found any direct propaganda in the curriculum or teaching.

    The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) told the BBC the CI on its campus was solely educational and that there was "nothing about this straightforward QUT CI's work that could be identified as Chinese propaganda nor does it threaten academic freedom".


    SHIKHA PANDEY
    Interest in learning Chinese overseas has grown rapidly in recent years

    But though both the CI and Chinese government deny it, critics say the CI rules essentially mean topics like Tibet, Taiwan, and Tiananmen are considered off-limits.

    Matt Schrader, a China analyst with the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund, asserts that the CIs are indeed "propaganda tools".

    "They are platforms for an authoritarian party that's fundamentally hostile to liberal ideas like free speech and free inquiry to propagate a state-approved narrative," he said.

    "And since the Communist Party of China doesn't have a free press or rule of law to check its use of power, it's no surprise there have been strong indications that CIs are used for inappropriate covert activities like intelligence gathering, and facilitating military research."

    Human Rights Watch said in its 2019 report on China: "Confucius Institutes are extensions of the Chinese government that censor certain topics and perspectives in course materials on political grounds, and use hiring practices that take political loyalty into consideration."


    GETTY IMAGES
    China has criticised the 'politicisation' of its Confucius Institutes

    The institutes have been accused of pressuring host universities to silence or censor talks on topics considered controversial by Beijing. For example, at a conference in Portugal in 2014, the head of Hanban, Xu Lin, told her staff to remove references to Taiwan from the conference programme before it was distributed to participants.

    In 2018, a keynote speaker at Savannah State University in the US had a reference to Taiwan deleted from her bio at the request of the co-director of the university's CI.

    China argues that CIs are no different from the cultural centres operated by other countries, such as the British Council and Spain's Cervantes Institute. Chinese officials have in the past, though, admitted that the CIs "are an important part of China's overseas propaganda apparatus".

    Foreign influence in Australia?

    In July, Australian media reported that local universities hosting CIs had signed agreements which gave China decision-making authority over teaching at the facilities.

    Then in late August, New South Wales announced it was scrapping programmes run by the CI in its schools altogether.

    An education department review in the Australian state said that while there was no evidence of "actual political influence", a number of factors "could give rise to the perception that the Confucius Institute is or could be facilitating inappropriate foreign influence in the department".

    "Having foreign government appointees based in a government department is one thing, having appointees of a one-party state that exercises censorship in its own country working in a government department in a democratic system is another," the review concluded.

    China has said the NSW decision is disrespectful and unfair to local students and urged Australia not to "politicise normal exchange projects".

    Protesters at the University of Queensland (UQ) have also demanded the closure of the CI there, particularly after pro-China students clashed with students rallying in support of the Hong Kong protests. In response, UQ insisted that its "academic freedom and institutional autonomy are not negotiable".

    The NSW move comes amid broader concerns about Chinese influence over Australian politics and society.

    The Australian government has now formed a task force to curb attempts by foreign governments to meddle in local universities. An investigation is also under way into whether agreements between Australian universities and CIs are in violation of new anti-foreign interference laws.

    Growing global concerns

    A number of foreign universities - which had embraced the CI with open arms - are rethinking their partnerships amid mounting criticism.

    Arizona State and San Diego State are the latest in a string of universities in the US to close down their CIs in recent months. Similar closures have taken place in the UK, France, Sweden, and Denmark. Canada's New Brunswick province has also announced the removal of some Confucius programmes from its public schools.

    Meanwhile, the US Defense Department has said it will no longer fund Chinese-language programmes at universities that host CIs.

    Alex Joske, an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, says the CIs "serve as channels for Beijing to build greater influence over universities as a whole". But completely disengaging with CIs may not be the right approach, he feels.

    "Short of shutting down Confucius Institutes, the government should work with universities to ensure they have effective internal mechanisms to resist foreign interference," he says.

    "Universities and the government should also seek to increase funding for Chinese-language programmes in order to reduce the appeal of Confucius Institutes and invest in greater expertise on China."
    I should've asked this earlier but is anyone here involved with a CI?
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    Tufts

    Tufts to Keep Confucius Institute
    By Elizabeth Redden
    October 9, 2019
    7 COMMENTS

    Tufts University decided to keep its Confucius Institute agreement after a yearlong review.

    More than 20 U.S. universities have closed their Confucius Institutes over the last two years as the Chinese government-funded centers for language education and cultural programming have come under scrutiny from American lawmakers, from both parties.

    U.S. representative Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, wrote to Tufts in spring 2018 urging the university to close its Confucius Institute. “The Chinese government has been clear in its goal and purpose for creating and expanding Confucius Institutes throughout the country, namely to distort academic discourse on China, threaten and silence defenders of human rights, and create a climate intolerant of dissent or open discussion,” Moulton wrote in the letter, quoted by The Boston Globe.

    A committee of Tufts professors and administrators charged with reviewing the institute found that Tufts Confucius Institute “has provided benefits to students and faculty at Tufts, especially in the Chinese Program, and that the [Confucius Institute at Tufts University] has not exercised undue influence, suppression of academic freedom and improper bias.” Tufts decided to renew its Confucius Institute agreement after making a few changes to the contractual terms, including limiting the term of the memorandum of understanding to two years and adding language to it "to ensure that Tufts maintains exclusive management control over CITU" and to "make clear that U.S. laws and Tufts’ policies apply without limitation to the CITU’s programs and to all staff associated with the CITU, including citizens of China."

    The Confucius Institute at Tufts is involved in offering noncredit Chinese language classes, cultural programming and teacher training, in addition to hosting conferences on Chinese language teaching and facilitating student and scholar exchanges between Tufts and its Chinese partner university, Beijing Normal University.

    "I’m confident that we have arrived at a very thoughtful and well-researched decision," James Glaser, Tufts' dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, said of the decision to renew the Confucius Institute agreement. "We’re pleased that our students will continue to have access to a resource that helps them enhance their language skills and their understanding of Chinese culture. In addition to the enhanced oversight our new agreement establishes, we also will be establishing a committee of Tufts faculty to weigh in on the qualifications of proposed Chinese staff and the CITU’s activities in general to ensure that they align with our policies and priorities."
    The plot thickens...
    Gene Ching
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  13. #13
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    the wake

    Tai Chi at the Student Wellness Complex
    Lianna Norman, Editor-in-Chief
    November 21, 2019

    The Confucius center may no longer exist at UNF, but it left an impression on our campus through an unusual avenue: exercise. Tai Chi is not just good for your body, though, it’s also good for your mind. Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art that is learned for its health benefits and defense training.

    Nicolas Michaud is an adjunct professor and student here at UNF and teaches Tai Chi at the Student Wellness Complex on Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

    “We started as a club first, and then we started doing it at the gym this last summer,” Michaud said. “It’s particularly good for your leg strength and balance; yet at the same time, if you do a solid hour of Tai Chi at the end you feel better about where you are at that moment.”

    Michaud learned the benefits of Tai Chi through the Confucius Center and continued to practice even after the professor who taught it went back to China.

    “He just wanted people to keep doing it – and I, of course, am not really as good or fluent in it as he is – but I’ve tried to create a space where I am learning it with other people. So I talked to the Wellness Center and started getting in contact with people there and they were very interested,” Michaud said. “We just decided to get it up and running and now it’s a thing.”

    The next Tai Chi class will be taking place tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 21 at 12 p.m. at the Student Wellness Complex in group fitness studio 1800.
    The article above linked to the article below.

    A deeper dive into Confucius Institutes: What happened? Why?
    Breanna Cataldo, Features Editor
    August 22, 2019

    Last year, UNF sent out a mandatory notice warning students that our Confucius Institute would be closing, as you may have read on our website. UNF wasn’t alone in this decision, though. Over the past year, at least ten universities called it quits on their own Confucius Institutes.

    Confucius Institutes are institutions that are funded by the Chinese Government for language and culture education. They’re also known, especially within this past year, to be controversial.

    In the beginning, professors would critique CI because of their concerns on academic freedoms, according to insidehighered.com. However as time went on, and the tensions with China rose, there was a shift from academic concerns to political ones.

    The two main critics of the CI during the time were U.S. senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

    Last April, an example of the political concerns took place when Texas A&M University closed their CI after two Texas congressmen called for the university to do so. Their reasoning was that it would be a “threat to our nation’s security by serving as a platform for China’s intelligence collection and political agenda,” according to insidehighered.

    UNF also received a letter urging for the closure of our own CI. In fact, four Florida universities that host(ed) Confucius Institutes received the warning. Last February, Rubio sent out a letter to the universities of North, West and South Florida asking that the universities’ CI be terminated. Three out of the four colleges agreed to do so, but not only for political reasons.

    Before UNF’s CI officially closed, the university sent out a news letter with details that included their reasoning for closure. Obviously UNF had received Rubio’s letter, but the school had other reasons for the CI termination as well.

    “After reviewing the classes, activities and events sponsored over the past four years and comparing them with the mission and goals of the university, it was determined that they weren’t aligned,” said the statement published in the news letter, which was written by faculty and staff.

    On the other hand, quite a few colleges have chosen to keep their Confucius Institutes open. Arizona State University, Stanford University, George Washington University, the University of Kentucky and more, are just a few examples, according to campusreform.org

    The executive director of the Confucius Institute U.S. Center, Gao Qing, said that Confucius Institutes represent a partnership between Chinese and American universities.

    He also made a statement regarding the political concerns.

    “In the past year, we have seen growing pressures and allegations on Confucius Institutes and their host universities based on those misunderstandings and misinformation but not valid evidence.”
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  14. #14
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    Soft Power in Africa

    Feature: When a street kid from Yaounde discovers Kungfu
    Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-05 17:48:56|Editor: zh
    By Qiao Benxiao

    YAOUNDE, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- At the top of Nkol-Nyada hill, the Yaounde Conference Center was built in the 1980s as a China-aid project, and remains to this day one of the landmark buildings in Cameroon. The story of Fabrice Mba, a Shaolin disciple, started there.

    Little Mba grew up on the street. He had no dad, his mom could not take care of every child because there are so many. In 1987, at the age of eight, he left his home in the southern town of Sangmelima with his elder sister to settle in the capital. They lived not far from the Yaounde Conference Center.

    Every morning, little Mba saw a Chinese man making movements on the square of the Conference Center. He and his friends, all barefoot and T-shirts torn, looked at the foreigner and imitated him. "It was very beautiful," recalled Mba.

    One day, the Chinese called them and asked them to take a posture, with knees slightly bent as if holding a tree in the arms. "We stood facing the wall. It hurted in feet, shoulders and arms so much that my friends fled, and I was left alone," said Mba.

    This posture which is called "zhan zhuang" is in fact a basic training method of the Chinese martial arts. The man who "mistreated" little Mba was a Chinese technician assigned to Cameroon to maintain the Conference Center, and the "very beautiful" movements that the Chinese made was obviously Kungfu.

    Since then, little Mba came every morning to learn Kungfu. "He was very thin, but at the same time very strong," remembered Mba of his teacher, without being able to say his name is Zhang or Jiang.

    A year later, little Mba returned to Sangmelima. His big brother was a projectionist, little Mba often helped him sweep the movie theater. For the first time, he saw the Shaolin monks on the screen. "It spoke to me very loudly."

    After studies, Mba returned to Yaounde to make a living. Life has hurt him more than the posture of zhan zhuang. Each job did not last long, and he did not know what to do to eat. His friend, who worked as a guardian of a bakery, sometimes kept breadcrumbs for him. "I had it on my hands, face and in my nostrils."

    "I don't drink, I don't smoke, Kungfu is all I have," said Mba, who continued to practice martial arts by learning from videos. To find inner peace, he trained in the morning in front of Conference Center, as his Chinese teacher once did.

    In 2011, a professor from the Confucius Institute encountered Mba while he was playing Kungfu. After short exchanges, Mba was invited to visit this establishment for teaching the Chinese language and culture. In a very short time, he made close friends with Chinese teachers who believed in him a lot. "I finally had the feeling of becoming me."

    Four years later, after a selection of profiles by the Confucius Institute, Mba obtained a scholarship to be trained in China in martial arts and traditional Chinese medicine at the Shaolin temple.

    "It was just like what I saw in the movies," said Mba, only this time he was on the other side of the screen. "The great masters of Shaolin really edified and enlightened me."

    Between 2015 and 2019, Mba went to Shaolin temple three times for training. Back to Yaounde, he became a physiotherapist, and gradually, he has constant income. When he is not busy with his patients, he teaches for free Kungfu fundamentals at the Confucius Institute and in several schools in Yaounde.

    For many Africans, Kungfu is presented only as a combat system, however, "by embracing the Chinese martial arts, I discovered their virtue," he said.

    "What Kungfu basically teaches is the production of a man of morality. When a man is rich in moral values, it is easier for him to be surrounded by people who love him and to have advancements in life," said Mba.

    He managed to convey this message to young Kungfu enthusiasts. "He teaches us to be a man of integrity, hardworking and respectful. If you have a problem with your friend, you have to keep cool and take a step back," said Emmanuel Ze, a student of Mba.

    In his collection of poems published in 2017 entitled "Breach in a stone wall", Mba saw his difficult years as a wall of despair. If he was finally able to break a breach, it is due to China.

    "I come with a story, which is more and more similar to that of a million Africans, to whom China opens its doors, to whom China changes (their) destiny," he wrote in this autobiographical anthology.

    Growing up on the street, Mba knows that many young Africans need help to break a hole in the wall of their lives. He is currently preparing a program to offer short-term training in physiotherapy and others to disadvantaged young people free of charge so that they can find work.

    "Be your own boss" is the slogan of his program named "Lotus and Water Lily", because "these are the only flowers that are able to grow in a polluted environment, and succeed in producing white flowers," he explained.

    "I was a street kid, destined to be a bandit or a robber, but I discovered Kungfu which teaches me to become a man of moral excellence even if I had no money", he said.

    "All these children who are in difficulty like once I was, who are destined for a bad life, can become lotuses and water lilies if they are given the opportunities."
    THREADS
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    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  15. #15
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    New Mexico State

    New Mexico State's Confucius Institute is closing; here's why
    Algernon D'Ammassa, Las Cruces Sun-NewsPublished 4:03 p.m. MT Feb. 7, 2020 | Updated 5:23 p.m. MT Feb. 7, 2020


    In 2009, Professor Chao Liu of Tianjin, China performed a dance during a Lunar New Year Fair presented by NMSU's Confucius Institute. (Photo: Jaime Guzman/For the Sun-News)

    LAS CRUCES - Mandarin Chinese is the most commonly spoken language in the world and is increasingly important in global business and policy, yet instruction in the language and culture of China will halt at least temporarily at New Mexico State University after this semester, when the university closes its Confucius Institute.

    With its closure, public schools in New Mexico and neighboring El Paso will also lose Chinese language classes and cultural activities the institute provided. The programs were funded by the Chinese government.

    The decision is part of a wave of closures of Confucius Institutes at American universities in recent years.

    NMSU's Confucius Institute was founded in 2007 in partnership with China's Shijiazhuang University of Applied Technology and, later, with Hebei Normal University.

    While much of the cost of the programming is reimbursed by the "Chinese side" of the partnership, NMSU provides office and storage space and half of the full-time salary of the institute's director, Elvira Masson.

    Masson, a professor of East Asian studies, has been involved in the institute from its inception and took over as the institute's director in 2015 after serving for a period as co-director with her colleague Kenneth Hammond, a founder of the program.

    Follow our reporting on NMSU and higher education. Subscribe to the Las Cruces Sun-News today.

    NMSU cited low enrollment and "funding issues" with the Office of Chinese Language Council International, the institute's headquarters in Beijing (commonly referred to as "Hanban"), in its decision to close the institute.

    In a statement, the university said the action is "part of a larger reorganization process, which has the goal of expanding our international initiatives, identifying and securing alternative funding sources, and providing stronger coordination among those involved."

    "This move will allow NMSU an opportunity to shape a language curriculum that is better suited to our students and the directions the university is pursuing," according to the statement.

    Confucius Institutes under political fire

    The University of Maryland established the first CI in the United States in 2004, and at its peak there were approximately 90 sites in addition to locations at universities worldwide.

    At NMSU, the program presented Chinese New Year celebrations and other cultural events, public lectures, and international academic conferences. The program also provided language instruction for local public schools.

    With funding from the Chinese government and visiting scholars from China, the institutes have come under political fire in the U.S. in recent years.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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