Results 1 to 15 of 23

Thread: Confucius Institutes

Hybrid View

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    Posts
    44,081

    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
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    Posts
    44,081

    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
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    Posts
    44,081

    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
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    Posts
    44,081

    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)
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    Posts
    44,081

    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.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    Posts
    44,081

    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
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    Posts
    44,081

    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
    Shaolin Journeys
    Confucius Institutes
    Shaolin's African Disciples
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    Posts
    44,081

    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
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    Posts
    44,081

    Continued from previous post


    NMSU's Confucius Institute partners with Blue Dragon Dojo on its performance of the Dragon Dance at Branigan Cultural Center. Here, students perform the dance in a Chinese New Year celebration on Jan. 28. 2017. (Photo: Josh Bachman/Sun-News)

    In 2018, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee his bureau was concerned that CI's might be used to plant operatives and exploit academia for the purposes of propaganda or espionage. Some senators urged universities in their states to terminate the programs.

    Many did just that, especially after the 2019 national defense authorization prohibited universities from hosting a CI if they also received federal funding for Chinese language studies.

    More: Review into New Mexico State football lingers over program

    The University of Missouri recently announced it was closing its CI because the U.S. state department changed its visa policy to require a certified Mandarin Chinese language teacher in every classroom with a Confucius Institute member. The university said complying with that directive would be cost prohibitive.

    Loss of instruction and outreach

    The institute at NMSU provided Chinese language instruction there and at the University of Texas at El Paso, as well as dual credit courses at schools in Doña Ana County and elsewhere in New Mexico. The institute also provided teaching materials and cultural activities at the private Cathedral High School in El Paso.

    "The institute was providing instructors for the Chinese language classes being taught at the high schools across the district," Las Cruces Public Schools Superintendent Karen Trujillo told the Sun-News, adding that after this semester "it will be difficult to continue offering Chinese as a foreign language option for our students."

    Masson said Chinese language instruction in K-12 schools was popular with parents.

    "We used to teach Chinese in Hatch and in Vado, and in both places Spanish-speaking parents came to us and said, 'We want our kids to be able to speak Chinese because the pecan buyers and the chile buyers are Chinese, and we want to be able to talk directly to them." Masson recalled during an interview at her office on campus. "If they've grown up in a bilingual world, they know the necessity of being able to meet people in their language."


    On a classroom door in Breland Hall on New Mexico State University's Las Cruces campus, university mascot Pistol Pete greets visitors to the Confucius Institute in Chinese on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (Photo: Algernon D'Ammassa/Sun-News)

    The institute also hosted speakers' series open to the public, often on topics unpleasant to the Chinese government, as when it screened a documentary about a Tibetan exile in China and hosted a talk by the filmmaker — all with Chinese funding.

    On Feb. 26, the institute will present what may be its last public talk, featuring Georgetown University professor and China expert James Millward. His talk will focus on the Chinese government's treatment, including mass internment, of the Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic minority that is predominantly Muslim, inhabiting the northwestern region of Xianjiang.

    Despite concerns raised at some CI locations over academic freedom and censorship from Beijing, Masson said NMSU had never experienced opposition from China over the content of its programming or the speakers it hosted.

    "We have always stated categorically, explicitly, the minute our granting agency denies us funding for any activity that we plan to do, that's the minute we shut our doors," Masson said.

    Closure 'an unfortunate choice'

    Hammond, the CI's first director, said speaking events organized by the institute have been a successful outreach opportunity for NMSU, drawing visitors to campus while providing students with exposure to international studies and an important world language.

    In an interview on campus, Hammond called the closure "an unfortunate choice that our administration has made, depriving a whole lot of kids of educational opportunities that I just really feel are critical right now."

    Hammond argued that if enrollment was a factor in the administration's decision, a better conclusion would be to promote the institute further, since it offered so much instruction and community outreach at very little cost to the university.

    "We are serving a community that is generally underserved, and perhaps stands to benefit more from this kind of increased international opportunity," he said.

    Federal pressure to close CI's

    Although the university does not receive funding from the Department of Defense for language programs, it has worked with the department on a range of programs in research, training and scholarships.

    Masson noted that political pressure has been building in Congress to use all federal funding as leverage for inducing universities to close their CI's.


    Blue Dragon Dojo member Florencia Visconti demonstrates martial arts during a Chinese New Year celebration at the Branigan Cultural Center on Jan. 28, 2017. NMSU's Confucius Institute collaborates with the dojo to perform the traditional dragon dance in Las Cruces. (Photo: Josh Bachman/Sun-News)

    "Every year when the defense authorization acts … come up, senators have tried to put riders in saying if you have a CI on your campus, all DOD funding will be removed," Masson said. "Those haven't passed, but the drumbeat's been there. Any big state institution that gets millions of dollars of DOD funding cannot afford that risk."

    "NMSU is committed to international collaborations and we will continue to provide students with opportunities to learn about different cultures and languages," the university's statement said. "We will expand our efforts to build educational and cultural connections with the people of China and provide quality language programs to our students."

    Hammond suggested closing the Confucius Institute amounted to walking away from a program that has been delivering on that promise for 12 years.

    "It just seems so counterproductive to turn away from an opportunity that is otherwise just not going to be here," he said. "It's not as though the university has the spare resources to create new positions to teach Chinese on campus."

    Algernon D'Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, adammassa@lcsun-news.com or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.
    I caught the end of a newspiece on NPR during this morning's commute. I went to search for it and see that I'm behind on updating this thread.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    Posts
    44,081

    Medgar Evers College

    In contrast, here's a new one.

    Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn opens controversial Confucius Institute
    By Melissa Klein February 8, 2020 | 7:41pm


    Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights, Brooklyn
    Paul Martinka

    Medgar Evers College has added a Chinese-funded institute to its Brooklyn campus at the same time other schools are booting similar programs.

    A Confucius Institute opened this fall at the school, which is part of the City University of New York, to teach Chinese language and culture classes.

    Medgar Evers is to get $1 million over five years by hosting the institute, which will also provide classes to local public school students, according to a CUNY announcement.

    Confucius Institutes, which first opened in the US in 2004 and are also located at Columbia University and at CUNY’s Baruch College, have become controversial because of their ties to the Chinese government.

    The American Association of University Professors in 2014 said that they “function as an arm of the Chinese state and are allowed to ignore academic freedom.”

    The AAUP recommended universities boot the programs unless their agreements with the institutes adhered to certain guidelines including that colleges have control over recruiting teachers and determining curriculum and choice of texts.

    An AAUP spokeswoman said the group had not changed its position since its 2014 statement.

    FBI Director Christopher Wray in 2018 said the agency was “warily watching” the institutes.

    In the last year, at least 10 institutes have closed or announced plans to shutter, according to an accounting by Inside Higher Ed.

    A Medgar Evers spokeswoman would not comment on whether the college was following the AAUP guidelines, and would not provide a copy of the school’s agreement to run the institute.

    Instead, spokeswoman Giulia Prestia said, “Chinese languages are the most widely spoken languages in the world. College students including Baruch College students benefit from Chinese language classes offered in collaboration with the Confucius Institute. Medgar Evers College’s expectation is that its students might similarly benefit by participating in a global forum.”
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    Posts
    44,081

    University of Maryland

    Jan 18, 2020
    America's oldest Confucius Institute to close
    Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian

    Citing federal regulations, the University of Maryland said on Friday that it will close its Confucius Institute, the earliest of its kind in the United States.

    Why it matters: It is the latest in a string of U.S. universities to end their partnerships with Chinese government-funded language and culture programs.

    The big picture: Amid allegations of censorship and U.S. government scrutiny over its activities, these Chinese government-funded language and culture programs face growing barriers in the U.S.

    On Jan. 17, University of Maryland President Wallace Loh wrote in a campus-wide email that it was no longer possible for the school's Confucius Institute (CI) to continue to operate, due to U.S. government regulations.

    The program will close at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.

    In 2004, the University of Maryland became the first U.S. university to host a Confucius Institute. Now, it is only the latest school to close its Confucius Institute due to U.S. government pressure.

    Confucius Institutes have faced growing criticism for censoring speech on U.S. campuses and for prohibiting politically sensitive topics in language classrooms.

    Critics say the programs allow China’s authoritarian government to censor American students on American campuses.

    But proponents argue that Confucius Institutes offer valuable language education, particularly at schools that otherwise can’t afford to offer Chinese language classes.

    Details: The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act prohibited universities that receive funding for language programs through the Department of Defense from also accepting Chinese government funding for Confucius Institutes.

    What they’re saying: “After evaluating the impact of this legislation on UMD, it became evident that we can no longer host Confucius Institute at Maryland,” wrote Loh. “We have notified CI Headquarters in Beijing that we are ending our agreement.”

    Background: Confucius Institutes are funded by through the Chinese Ministry of Education, which also provides textbooks and teachers.

    The institutes are embedded on the campuses of universities around the world. At their peak, there were over 100 such institutes as US colleges and universities.

    The programs offer Chinese language and culture classes and programming.

    The bottom line: Engagement with China was once seen in a positive light. But as China’s government has taken a hard authoritarian turn, and as the U.S. mood toward China has soured, it’s gotten harder for joint U.S.-China programs to survive.
    Here's an old article above and a rebuttal below:
    UMD shouldn’t have closed its Confucius Institute
    Kevin Hu
    February 04, 2020


    Decorations hang outside the main office of the Confucius Institute at the University of Maryland in Susquehanna Hall on Oct. 9, 2019. (Joe Ryan/The Diamondback)

    Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.

    Tucked away on the fourth floor of Susquehanna Hall lies the University of Maryland’s Confucius Institute, a compact but lively hub for Chinese language and culture. I had no idea what it was until a few months ago. I only became aware of its existence after stumbling upon a Diamondback article on the ongoing federal investigation surrounding it.

    My curiosity piqued, I did some research and learned it was a non-traditional academic institution designed to immerse students, parents, and even young children in Chinese language and culture. Browsing through some of their past cultural events immediately made me nostalgic; it was essentially the higher education equivalent of the Chinese school program that I attended throughout my childhood and teenage years.

    I was devastated after finding out that our Confucius Institute was closing. As someone who benefited greatly from a similar program, I know firsthand how important it was for Chinese Americans to be given the opportunity to understand and appreciate their heritage.

    Growing up, I had difficulty coming to terms with what felt like separate identities. The ideals that were ingrained into me at home — the absolute importance of respect and profuse gratitude – were completely different from what I was taught at school. Occasionally, I felt that my silence and deference were misrepresented as a lack of intelligence and confidence.

    It didn’t take long before I began to resent my Chinese heritage. I felt detached from my peers. It wasn’t until I started attending elementary school at Hope Chinese School that I began to realize the metaphorical distance I felt from my peers was due to underlying differences in our cultural beliefs.

    Every Saturday, I would learn about popular folktales and partake in traditional Chinese games and performances. Through my experiences, I became more cognizant of the basis on which a large number of Chinese values and idioms rested upon. I started to understand my heritage and why my cultural norms were different than my peers. The knowledge empowered me; I began to realize there was overlap between these two seemingly disparate identities and this allowed me to assimilate without compromising my cultural background.

    This experience isn’t something that you can achieve simply by taking a Chinese class at the University of Maryland. In a traditional academic setting, the emphasis is typically on scrutinizing the subject through a scholastic lens. However, in order to understand and truly appreciate different cultures, a holistic mindset and the ability to empathize with unfamiliar perspectives are arguably more important. To accomplish this, sometimes it’s best to withdraw from standard academic expectations and learn in a non-traditional environment like the Confucius Institute.

    However, primarily due to political pressure and concerns about espionage, universities are being coerced into closing down their Confucius Institutes nationwide. As relations between the United States and China deteriorate, more Americans now harbor unfavorable opinions of China and view it as a threat. The recently passed National Defense Authorization Act prevents Defense Department funding for institutions that host Confucius Institutes. In addition, prominent senators, such as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, have raised concerns about government-influenced censorship and security breaches related to these institutions.

    While these concerns are undeniably valid – especially given the evidence so far – it seems presumptuous to assume that these institutes are important enough to a possible espionage strategy to warrant a mass closure. Despite widespread suspicions, there has been no positive proof of any security breaches related to Confucius Institutes. In addition, these institutions are apolitical by nature – they focus on the diffusion of Chinese language and culture – so it’s illogical for critics to be worried about potential censorship. As controversial as this may seem, these institutions aren’t mandated to discuss Tibet or Taiwan. If you were taking a class to learn American English or culture, chances are you probably wouldn’t learn about the human atrocities committed during the Iraq War.

    Without Hope Chinese School, I probably would’ve continued to live in suspension between two outwardly irreconcilable cultures. For Chinese Americans who want to embrace their dual identity or for anyone that wants to understand a prevalent but foreign culture, it’s imperative that we continue to support Confucius Institutes. This iron-fist response appears to be an impulsive response to rising xenophobia when we could work toward a compromise that protects our national security while remaining faithful to the noble mission of these institutions.

    Kevin Hu is a sop****re physiology and neurobiology major. He can be reached at kevxhu@gmail.com.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    IL
    Posts
    990
    Not to blame Trump but his tenure is causing a 'whitewash" of institutions, who vision is to spread positive information but the xenophobes are turning it into an unmaneageable task with corresponding laws to support that public ignorance. What will be the result of some countries closing US cultural institutes because they are said to be eroding the local culture and brainwashing their citizens.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    Posts
    44,081

    Is there a U.S. equivalent to a Confucius Institute?

    It’s Time for a New Policy on Confucius Institutes
    By Jamie P. Horsley Thursday, April 1, 2021, 2:30 PM

    A plaque commemorating the opening of a Confucius Institute at the University of Michigan in 2009. (Brett Ashley, https://tinyurl.com/499frcym; CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)
    On March 5, the U.S. Senate voted to deny Department of Education funding to universities that host Confucius Institutes (CIs)—the controversial Chinese language and culture centers partially financed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC)—unless they meet oversight requirements. A federal campaign against their alleged “malign influence,” pressure from politicians and Department of Defense funding restrictions have prompted and accelerated closure of more than half the CIs in the United States. Faculty concerns over preserving academic freedom and university budget constraints concerning operating funds have all contributed to the trend. But so has a decline of American student interest in China studies and learning Mandarin Chinese. These closings and the attendant inflammatory rhetoric exacerbate a national foreign language deficit at a time when training Mandarin speakers familiar with an ever more consequential China should be a national priority.

    To meet this challenge, the U.S. government should increase funding for Mandarin language and China studies courses, but also stop forcing cash-strapped universities to choose between federal funding and properly managed CI programs. Multiple investigations into U.S.-based CIs, including by the Senate, have produced no evidence that they facilitate espionage, technology theft or any other illegal activity, no evidence that federal funds are used for their support, and only a handful of objectionable U.S. incidents. The Biden administration should lift, or provide necessary waivers of, federal funding restrictions on universities that demonstrate appropriate academic freedom and institutional safeguards around their CIs, which are no longer directly funded by the Chinese government. It should also consider authorizing the Confucius Institute U.S. Center (CIUS) to serve as a visa sponsor to assist Chinese teachers and staff of CIs obtain the proper visas, as well as enable CIUS to serve as a clearinghouse for information on such PRC personnel for relevant U.S. government agencies.

    What are CIs and what’s the threat?

    The global CI program was initially launched under China’s Ministry of Education (MOE) in 2004, and more recently has been advanced as part of the PRC’s national strategy of Chinese culture “going global.” It consists of campus-based language and culture partnerships formerly funded in part and supported by the MOE. Many CIs also assist Confucius Classrooms teaching Chinese language at K-12 schools. The CI program sent hundreds of teachers to help meet U.S. government goals for Mandarin instruction under the Bush and Obama administrations. An estimated 51 CIs, 44 of them campus-based, continue to operate, down from a peak of 110 throughout the country. This number includes at least seven CIs that are scheduled to close in 2021. In addition, K-12 schools continue to host about 500 Confucius Classrooms.

    Prior to a June 2020 reorganization, U.S. universities typically negotiated five-year CI agreements with the MOE CI headquarters, called “Hanban,” and Chinese partner universities. While a 2019 Senate subcommittee report described CIs as being “controlled, funded, and mostly staffed” by the Chinese government, they have operated as U.S.-Chinese joint ventures, jointly funded and managed. Sometimes, they have co-directors from China and the United States but many are directed by a U.S. faculty director and a Chinese deputy. Boards of directors composed of university officials and faculty from each side exercise general oversight. Hanban contributed start-up funds to, and shared operating costs with, the U.S. partner institution, which also supplied classrooms and administrative support. Hanban additionally provided language teaching materials, if requested, and paid the salaries and international travel costs for the Mandarin language teachers from the Chinese partner university, as well as grants for research, study tours to China and other matters in some cases. The exact arrangements vary. At larger universities with separate Chinese language departments teaching for-credit courses, CIs typically focus on language teacher training, K-12 language classes and community language and cultural outreach. Some CIs specialized in areas such as healthcare, business, Chinese food and beverage culture, and Chinese film.

    CIs generated legitimate concerns about academic freedom and independence due to their direct support from, and admitted role as a “soft power” instrument for, China’s party-state. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) United Front organization oversees propaganda and education and is tasked to promote cultural exchanges, friendship between the Chinese and other peoples and a good international environment for achieving China’s policy objectives. In a 2014 report on CI partnerships, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) argued that allowing third-party control of academic matters compromises academic freedom and institutional autonomy. AAUP recommended that universities cease involvement with CIs, which it characterized as “as an arm of the Chinese state,” unless their agreements are transparent to the university community, afford them control over all academic matters and grant CI teachers the same rights enjoyed by other faculty. The subsequent closure of CIs at two universities attracted congressional scrutiny and prompted a series of dueling reports.

    An influential 2017 study of 12 CIs by the National Association of Scholars identified a range of concerns including transparency, contractual language, academic freedom and pressure to self-censor. It urged closing all CIs and suggested prudential measures for universities that refused to do so. The study further called for congressional inquiries to evaluate CI national security risks through “spying or collecting sensitive information” and their role in monitoring and harassing Chinese, although it documented no such incidents. In contrast, a 2018 joint Hoover Institute-Asia Society study of Chinese influence activities in the U.S., which acknowledged concerns that campus-based CIs might “potentially infringe” on academic freedom—and made similar recommendations to reduce potential risks—found no actual interference by CIs in mainstream Chinese studies curricula on U.S. campuses and that most CIs operate without controversy.

    A congressionally-commissioned study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published in February 2019 essentially supported that view. Its analysis of governance and secrecy provisions in 90 CI agreements found that U.S. university personnel generally control curriculum and teaching materials, although this is not always made clear in agreements. With respect to a frequently voiced concern that CI agreements often stipulate applicability of both U.S. and Chinese law, it reproduced a common provision also contained in the Hanban template CI agreement that Chinese personnel working at CIs must comply with U.S. law, while Chinese law would apply to Americans involved in China-based CI activities. It further reported a variety of negotiated provisions making U.S. law, as well as school policies, applicable to all CI activities, as in this published agreement.

    The GAO found that, although 42 of the 90 agreements contained confidentiality clauses, many agreements are publicly available, either posted online, as at least 11 universities did, through state open records laws, or upon request. After describing the benefits including increased resources and concerns about potential constraints on campus programming and speech associated with CIs, the GAO reported that school officials denied having such concerns about their CIs, a finding supported by a contemporaneous 2019 Senate report.

    Early attempts to impose political requirements for CIs to support the “One China Principle or refrain from discussing Tibet,” for example, were rejected. At least three U.S. universities with CIs have hosted the Dalai Lama, although a CI director warned another university’s provost that re-scheduling a cancelled visit by the Dalai Lama could disrupt relationships with China, leading the provost to observe that a CI does present opportunities for “subtle pressure and conflict.” Most CIs do limit their scope to language and traditional culture, leaving political and other topics to other university contexts. The CI project is intended to promote a favorable understanding of China, but CIs do not enjoy a monopoly over information available on campuses, and based on interviews and at least one study, any concerns that American students will be brainwashed by CCP propaganda, delivered through CIs or otherwise, are overblown. Nonetheless, school officials joined others interviewed in the GAO and Senate studies in suggesting CI management improvements, such as clarifying U.S. universities’ authority and making agreements publicly available.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    Posts
    44,081

    continued from previous post

    CI partnerships also became embroiled in a Department of Education (DOE) initiative to enforce a foreign gift reporting requirement. After the 2019 Senate study found nearly 70 percent of universities that received more than $250,000 from Hanban failed to properly file, the drive focused on China, even though other countries were larger donors to U.S. higher education.The DOE report on the initiative’s results referenced CIs in connection with concerns that “foreign money buys influence or control over teaching and research.” Widespread non-compliance with the reporting requirement, more a matter of confusion, rather than secrecy, prompted a new DOE reporting portal in June 2020.

    As tensions between the U.S. and China grew, federal policymakers frequently conflated CI-related academic freedom concerns with a broader set of issues including: Chinese efforts to steal technology, intellectual property and research data; disruptive activities by some campus-based Chinese student associations and China’s consulates; Chinese talent recruitment plans; and other suspect influence efforts. Passed in August 2018, the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) prohibited the Pentagon from financing Chinese language programs at universities that host a CI, absent Department of Defense waivers, which have not been granted. Despite a bipartisan congressional finding announced in February 2019 of “no evidence that these institutes are a center for Chinese espionage efforts or any other illegal activity,” the 2021 NDAA broadens the restriction to funding for any program at universities that host CIs.

    CI Reorganization

    China’s MOE reorganized the CI project in June 2020, implementing a CCP-approved reform plan to develop CIs as a “significant force” for cultural and educational exchange with other countries. MOE replaced Hanban with a new agency to manage overseas language and culture exchanges, the Center for Language Education and Cooperation (CLEC). CLEC will continue to help provide Mandarin teachers and requested teaching materials. However, the Chinese International Education Foundation (CIEF), a nominally independent organization registered with the Civil Affairs Ministry, supervised by MOE, and initiated by 27 Chinese universities, companies and social organizations, will manage the CI brand and program. CIEF is now responsible, working together with Chinese partner universities, for contractual and funding arrangements, not Hanban or MOE.

    This rebranding is unlikely to relieve suspicions about the role of CIs in China’s “soft power” projection. Chinese universities that participate in CIEF and serve as CI partners are mostly state-funded and, like everything in China, under CCP leadership. Moreover, as a recent study commissioned by China’s MOE observed, in a charged U.S. political atmosphere, the “Confucius Institute” brand is now associated with Chinese political interference. Nonetheless, at least one U.S. university, Georgia’s Wesleyan College, signed on with CIEF for the duration of its current CI agreement, although others in the U.S. and Europe are proceeding with announced closures. Elsewhere, CIs continued to open in Chile, South Africa, Kenya and Greece, with plans to establish them in Dominica, Maldives, Chad and Central Africa.

    Confusion over CIUS

    In August 2020, the Department of State designated the Confucius Institute U.S. Center (CIUS) as a “foreign mission,” effectively controlled by the Chinese government that funds it. Established in Washington, D.C. in 2012 to promote Chinese language teaching and learning in the U.S., CIUS connects school districts interested in developing a Chinese language curriculum to appropriate CI and other resources, and provides professional development opportunities to Confucius Classroom teachers. While acknowledging that CIUS does not undertake diplomatic activities and none of its employees are government officials, the department characterized it as the “de facto headquarters of the Confucius Institute network” and “an entity advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on U.S. campuses and K through 12 classrooms.” Citing its opacity and state-directed nature as the “driving reasons behind this designation,” the State Department also directed CIUS to provide details on funding and curriculum materials it supplied to CIs and K-12 Confucius Classrooms and the names of all PRC citizens CIUS had referred or assigned to them.

    In its response to the department, CIUS explained that, although it seeks to foster awareness of CI programs, it does not fund, supply, staff, supervise or serve as a headquarters for CIs in the U.S. As a registered nonprofit corporation, its financials and related organizational details are publicly available through annual IRS Form 990s. Moreover, after the Hanban reorganization in June 2020, CIUS is no longer directly supported by China’s MOE, nor has it received any funding from CLEC or CIEF and must look to fundraising from Chinese and U.S. universities and other sources.

    Given this reorganization and CIUS’s role, the State Department might revisit its foreign mission designation. Regardless, CIUS could usefully serve as a visa sponsor, as do some states and nonprofits like the Cordell Hull Foundation, for U.S.-based CIs. Visa issues for visiting teachers have prompted suspensions and contributed to cancellation of some CI programs. As a centralized visa sponsor, CIUS could help ensure compliance with U.S. law and serve as an information clearinghouse on Chinese CI personnel in the U.S., one of the benefits the department had hoped to obtain from the CIUS foreign mission designation.

    Filling the Chinese language deficit

    A State Department report on the China challenge calls for the U.S. to train a new generation of public servants and policy thinkers to attain fluency in Chinese and acquire extensive knowledge of China’s culture and history. Yet, interest among U.S. students has been declining since peaking around 2011, as American views of China more generally have plunged to the lowest level since polling began. Multiple factors, including dimmer China-related job prospects, as well as pollution and academic and lifestyle concerns relating to study within the PRC, explain this trend. Nonetheless, official U.S. pressure to close CIs and their K-12 programs, including by withholding federal funds for universities that host CIs, is further exacerbating a national “language deficit” precipitated in part by decreased U.S. government higher education and foreign language funding over the years. In addition, some universities still have difficulty finding qualified Mandarin teachers, especially at the K-12 level, to satisfy remaining demand.

    Meanwhile, Chinese students are required to learn English from elementary school and as a requirement to gain admission to, and in many cases graduate from, college, with an estimated 400 million Chinese—including front-line military troops—now learning English.

    To be sure, some private U.S. NGOs offer Mandarin learning, including an Asia Society program with 35,000 students studying Chinese in 100 K-12 schools around the country that are linked with sister schools in China. U.S.-based China and Taiwan-oriented groups also offer various Chinese education, culture and teacher training courses, as well as teaching of Chinese dialects and traditional Chinese characters still used in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

    Nonetheless, federal funding is needed to adequately meet the Mandarin language challenge and lessen cash-strapped universities’ dependence on Chinese funding and other teaching support. The U.S. government launched an initiative with Taiwan in December 2020 to expand existing Mandarin language opportunities in the U.S. and help fill a gap created by CI closings. It should also increase Mandarin language and China studies funding under other critical language programs, and re-authorize the Fulbright program with China, including language awards, that were terminated in July 2020.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    Posts
    44,081

    continued from previous post

    Due diligence, not dissolution

    Budget cuts impacting universities’ ability to finance their share of operating costs, coronavirus obstacles and low Mandarin class enrollment, compounded by federal government funding restrictions, may mean the end of CIs after a 15-year, generally controversy-free record in the United States. Yet the U.S. is facing a critical shortage of Mandarin-speaking China experts. Even critics concede the CI program has provided valuable learning experiences otherwise unavailable due to budget constraints and the lack of Mandarin teachers at universities and public schools across the nation.

    The Biden administration has the opportunity to reassess the concerns, evidence and U.S. actions taken with respect to the remaining Confucius Institutes and Classrooms. It should disaggregate legitimate national security concerns, including Chinese espionage and technology theft, from academic freedom issues that are best left to our universities. The federal government and Congress should work to protect our national security in a manner that does not impinge on the academic freedom or institutional autonomy they also seek to protect. Over 30 of the universities, as well as the College Board, that ended CI partnerships since 2017 did so under political pressure that threatened loss of federal funding—not over concerns of Chinese interference or declining interest. Marshall Sahlins, an early and eloquent CI critic who was instrumental in closing the University of Chicago CI in 2014, observed ironically in mid-2018 that “the American government now mimics the totalitarian regime of the PRC by dictating what can and cannot be taught in our own educational institutions.”

    Universities should, of course, continue to be vigilant against the potential for unwelcome influence including implicit pressure on faculty to self-censor, as well as to ensure compliance with the Department of Education’s foreign gift and other reporting requirements, and visa rules for CI exchange visitors. Given the allegations surrounding CIs, which continue to be pressed by bipartisan Congressional coalitions, CI host universities should all publish their CI agreements online. The CIUS, no longer directly funded by China’s MOE, is well positioned to serve as both a visa agent to help ensure appropriate visas are obtained and a clearinghouse for information on Chinese teachers and administrators working in CIs.

    More broadly, the U.S. government also has an urgent interest in stabilizing the U.S.-China relationship so that the two countries can work together constructively to meet common challenges. That formidable task requires the U.S. to foster more realistic and actionable expectations, criticisms and commitments, rather than policies and actions based on an alarmist China caricature that does not reflect the more complex reality of that country, its people and its behavior abroad. In an era of tight funding for and decline of interest in Chinese language and culture programs, and a clear need for cultivating Mandarin speakers and China expertise across multiple disciplines, the modest financial contribution and native Mandarin language professionals provided through an appropriately managed CI network should be welcomed, not castigated.

    The author thanks James Haynes, former Research Assistant, and intern Jingye Huang - Foreign Policy, John L. Thornton China Center, The Brookings Institution, and Mia Shuang Li and research assistant Claire Ren Yixin of the Yale Law School Paul Tsai China Center, for valuable research assistance and insights. All views expressed only represent the personal opinions of the author.
    Soft power is very tricky.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •