“Confucius Institutes are non-profit public institutions that aim to promote Chinese language and culture and support local Chinese teaching internationally. The headquarters is in Beijing and is under the Office of Chinese Language Council International (colloquially, Hanban (汉办)). Many scholars characterize the CI program as an exercise in soft power where China “sees the promotion of its culture and its chief language, standard Mandarin, as a means of expanding its economic, cultural, and diplomatic reach.” Tumultuous relations between China and the West have resulted in increasing controversy over China’s relationship with the institute. The People’s Republic of China has publicly supported the institution, but university and public school systems that incorporate the program have stressed the “total autonomy in their course materials and teachers.” (Wikipedia – Confucius Institute)
At the university I work at we are going to be incorporating this program into our International Students area. I like the idea personally, another step in the multi-culturalism in the world and its about learning to appreciate another persons cultural identity. Being someone from a strong cultural identity I can relate to the program and its goals. I also happen to work with many international students and I think this is a good program for the Chinese students to be better understood on campus.
However, it is supported by the Socialist Chinese government, which could be a red flag for all those conservatives out there. I guess I have little problem with Socialism that has the acknowledgment of culture as part of its agenda (quite unlike the West which functions in a monoculture mentality).