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US Universities End Confucius Institutes, Chinese Reactions

A view of an American university campus through an arch.

A view of an American university campus through an arch.

From NetEase:

Two American Universities Announce Closure of Confucius Institutes in the Same Week

Have Americans lost their self-confidence? Following the University of Chicago’s September 25th announcement that it’ll be ceasing its Confucius Institute partnership, Pennsylvania State University announced on October 1st that it would terminate its 5 year partnership with China’s Confucius Institute at the end of the year instead of renewing it.

Reuters reports that this is the second American university to stop its partnership with China’s Confucius Institute this week. Previously, America’s University of Chicago had announced on September 25th that it would terminate its partnership with the Confucius Institute. The Confucius Institute at the University of Chicago was established in 2010.

In response, the Foreign Affairs Ministry responded on September 29th saying that all of the Confucius Institutes in the United States were voluntarily applied for by American Universities; are established through friendly consultations and formal agreements between the Confucius Institute headquarters, Chinese universities, and the respective American universities; that Confucius Institutes provide teachers, teaching material, and such support and help in accordance with the voluntary application by the American side; has never been imposed on anyone; and therefore cannot constitute a threat to a university’s academic freedom or integrity.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the 2nd saying the actions of several universities lately reflect their great dissatisfaction with the Confucius Institute, such as the Confucius Institute’s hiring practices and refusal to accept certain negative content and text about China’s history.

The vice president of the American Association of University Professors and chair of the committee that denounced the Confucius Institute said, “I respect the University of Chicago and Pennsylvania State University, and I also believe they will not be the only universities who want to end their cooperation with these value-less institutes (Confucius Institute).” On a statement made on the 1st, Pennsylvania State University Dean Dr. Susan Welch said, “Some of our goals are not consistent with the opinions of the Office of Chinese Language Council International, and the Office of Chinese Language Council International is the most important provider of support for all Confucius Institutes.

Previously, guancha.cn has published an article by media personality Liu Yang in which he said the American Association of University Professors have been calling on nearly 100 universities since June to cancel or renegotiate their agreements with China’s Confucius Institutes. Their main reason is that Confucius Institutes are funded by the Office of Chinese Language Council International under China’s Ministry of Education, and therefore believe Confucius Institutes are a branch of Chinese Communist Party propaganda, with the goal of spreading Chinese Communist Party ideology, and therefore violates academic freedom.

The article said there are many organizations similar to the Confucius Institute, such as the British Council and Alliance Française, that American movies and television also for the most part contain distinct American ideology and characteristics. Now that it is facing a fast-developing China, American culture is also showing weakness hidden behind an outward display of strength.

The article believes America’s attitude towards the Confucius Institute also demonstrates its ignorance of Chinese culture. One of the essences of Chinese culture is “harmony in diversity”, that the spread of Chinese culture has never sought the extinguishing of other cultures as a goal. America’s apprehensions about Confucius Institutes reflects an old Chinese saying: judging the heart of a gentleman with one’s own mean measure [projecting one’s questionable motives onto others]. If they want to change this problem of theirs, America’s elite should take some classes in a Confucius Institute, learn the essence of Chinese culture, and then they won’t be so paranoid.

Comments from NetEase:

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天道机智王0 [网易湖北省黄冈市网友]:

Guangcha.cn actually said “have Americans lost their self-confidence?” This kind of idiotic remark, is a classic straw man and red herring.

网易湖北省武汉市手机网友 ip:113.57.*.*

With the garbage culture that Confucius Institutes export, it’d be strange if it wasn’t shut down!

扬帆乘风 [网易四川省德阳市网友]:

Confucius says: It’s time to increase wages for the working class!
Lao-Tze says: Confucius is right!

目田引导人民 [网易广东省广州市手机网友]:

The last part of the article is shameless. Moreover, isn’t others suspecting you of disseminating ideology and you saying others are afraid of you disseminating ideology being on the same page?

一十年 [网易浙江省温州市手机网友]:

The location of spies and money laundering!

爱国就不爱荡 [网易四川省成都市网友]:

Mozi, Zhuangzi, Han Fei and such historical scholars are immensely satisfied.

小志看新闻 [网易河南省许昌市手机网友]:

If your circumstances allow, it’s better to go abroad to study, to learn comparatively more objective history, learn true academic freedom, so that after graduation, you’ll be able to see problems/issues more objectively.

梦想一直不变 [网易河北省石家庄市辛集市手机网友]:

Confucius/Confucianism was useful for feudal emperors, and that’s why every dynasty promoted him. The moment Confucius disappears is the moment the China’s ordinary common people become citizens.

骑马o过海 [网易广东省广州市网友]:

Imperialist America advocates hegemony through strength, while Confucius promotes harmony through diversity. The two are incompatible. [This comment has similar amounts of upvotes and downvotes.]

MNICOUPER [网易河南省郑州市手机网友]:

They thought Western civilization was as easy to hoodwink as China’s ignorant masses.

Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

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