Report: Chinese Academies In The US All About Politics and Money

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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A report from the National Association of Scholars (NAS) that Chinese academic academies in the U.S. are teaching political indoctrination along with regular education, The College Fix reports.

Rachelle Peterson accuses the Chinese Confucius Institutes of operating without oversight and promoting a dangerous political agenda.

Peterson says the the centers should be shut down because of the numerous problems that range from the a lack of intellectual freedom to political interference.

“Confucius Institutes export the fear of speaking freely around the world. They permit a foreign government intimate influence over college classrooms,” she writes. “It’s time to kick them off campus.”

But she isn’t optimistic that her wake-up call will be heeded by universities — they bring in a lot of extra revenue for the host universities.

“Unfortunately, colleges and universities have a history of turning a deaf ear to many others — including the American Association of University Professors — who encourage them to shut down Confucius Institutes,” she told The College Fix in an email.

The academies have been subject to criticism before, including one statement that flatly described the “considerable oversight from the Chinese government that…places limitations on academic freedom and threatens their scholastic integrity.”

Confucius Institutes (CIs) have resided at U.S. universities since 2005 with 103 of them continuing to operate today. They offer credit courses in Chinese language and culture and are funded by China’s ministry of education.

Peterson quotes the former head of propaganda for the Chinese Communist Party, Li Changchun, as describing the centers as “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.”

Peterson assessed a number of the centers and determined that instructors are often hired on the basis of political reliability and not expertise and that textbooks “lacked academic credibility” because they omitted any details that were not favorable to the Chinese communists.

Ultimately, Peterson says it comes down to money.

“CIs come with operational funding and free teachers and textbooks—in some cases enabling a university to charge students tuition for a course that costs the university little to nothing,” she told the The College Fix.

Free trips to China are also offered to administrators who are afforded the opportunity to plug their schools and attract tuition-paying Chinese students.

The institutes are also apt to promote a fuzzy foreign policy to students that advocates “deepening friendly relationships with other nations” in order to “construct a harmonious world,” Peterson writes.

The NAS report has been condemned by at least one CI. The institute director at Binghamton University in New York supplied this comment to the NAS: “Frankly speaking, the case study on [the Confucius Institute of Chinese Opera] in this report is full of factual error and false accusations,” wrote Zu-yan Chen, who also teaches at Binghamton University.

He even demanded  an apology from Peterson for having “harmfully attacked my character, my wife’s reputation, and Binghamton University’s standing” and that the apology be extensively communicated.

An apology has not been forthcoming.

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