(TibetanReview.net, Mar16’23) – After being seen as a holdout, a university in the US state of Alabama has shut down earlier this month its on-campus Confucius Institute, a controversial Chinese language and culture education centre funded by the Communist Party of China (CPC). Being known to follow a pro-China narrative and to suppress discussions of issues and subjects disapproved of by the CPC, and widely criticized for this and other reasons, many Confucius institutes have been shut down in the US and Europe in recent years.
Troy University trustees cited “federal regulations that will limit the availability of funding to institutions that maintain their agreements with Chinese partners,” reported thecollegefix.com Mar 16, citing a university news release.
The university was reported in Oct 2022 to be a holdout in maintaining its Confucius Institute despite many closures elsewhere.
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“CIs [Confucius Institutes] are essentially a Beijing-run program in teaching, material, and curriculum,” Ian Oxenvad, senior fellow at the National Association of Scholars (NAS), has said.
While academically “whitewashing” things not in the CPC’s favour, “Tibet, Taiwan, and criticisms of Communism can be seen as taboo” in the curriculum of the Confucius Institutes, the report noted.
The Chinese government is in charge of the teachers and curriculum, choosing and vetting them, and supplying all classroom materials.
It provides the funding while “the host school usually does little more than offer facilities and some administrative support,” Oxenvad has said.
And so, while describing themselves as Mandarin language programmes, Confucius Institutes “promote censorship of views critical of the PRC and the Chinese Communist Party. They also follow a pro-China narrative in educational materials,” he has said.
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Confucius Institutes have drawn scrutiny from scholars, political groups, and both Democratic and Republican lawmakers amid rising concerns over their open connections to the dictatorial regime.
This was part of the reason why the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, the US military’s annual budget, specified that the Department of Defense will not provide contracts, grants or any other funds to universities with operating Confucius Institutes “other than amounts provided directly to students as educational assistance.”
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Given the prevailing mood against Confucius Institutes, China is shifting its focus by investing in other programmes of universities, Rachelle Peterson, senior research fellow at NAS, has written in an article last year.
“Colleges and universities…are busily ‘closing’ their Confucius Institutes, only to replace them with other, substantially similar, forms of partnership with the Chinese government,” she has said.
Even after shutting down their Confucius Institute, the University of Michigan, for one, continued to receive funding from the Hanban, the Chinese government agency responsible for Confucius Institutes, the US Education Department foreign gift reporting website was cited as saying.