Confucius Institute

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).

5 thoughts on “Confucius Institute

  1. Socialist Chinese government?


    That is a shockingly inaccurate word to select.

    If I didn’t know any better, I would have to think you actually equate a totalitarian form of government like China’s with the kind that use public funding for fire departments… as if they were based on the same political ideology.

    The correct term you need to use is ‘Communist’.

  2. Communist – works for me. Just glad to have the program on campus where any and all can learn the reality of the situation of Chinese culture (and communism even) within the context of people really living it day to day.

  3. Because the Institute is supported by the Chinese Communist Party, you know perfectly well that is a branch of the government. And this government does not support or endorse or even allow freedom of speech, freedom of expression, or freedom to study honest Chinese history. You have invited on to your campus the government of China – the same government that vilified Confucius – to act as a representative of what THEY want you to believe about China and its people.

    In addition, I have no doubt that this institute is merely a cover for various activities and people to be monitored more closely and a repository for information that is valuable to be sent back to the Chinese communist government.

  4. Tildeb, I know you have the right to dislike communism because you know it limits freedoms which we enjoy in the West, granted – I feel the same way as ya on most of that.

    However, have you ever talked with students from China that are within the Communist gov’t you vilify? I have, and I hate to say this, but most of them don’t mind their country – and these are some of the best students allowed to ‘study in the West’ (how’s that for some 4000 miles of freedom).

    Your generic coloring of the the confucious thing is based not on fact, but the way you ‘feel’ about China and it’s gov’t. I am not sure you really have anyhthing to back up your case that almost makes the confucious institute look like a ‘spy’ organization (which is really quite the claim to make). BTW, this institute is on 8 other campuses in Canada!

    You may not like communism but that does not mean the people attending these schools in Canada should hate their gov’t as well; seems unhealthy to me to have that kind of bitterness towards anything.

  5. Vilify the communist gov’t? Moi? What’s not to love?

    Here’s an idea: why not have a discussion with these students about the role of the Dalai Lama? Tienanmen Square? How about Falun Gong?

    I know you like to paint me as fundamentalist about the anti-religious thing, but what I’m really concerned about is human rights, political freedom, and the dignity of personhood. I think religions (generally) are against all three but… and it’s a really big but… people have the right to believe what they want if we’re to have freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression… none of which are respected by any totalitarian state including China. You’re damn right I don’t like the Chinese government and it is a looming and ever-growing threat in the world. That being said, the people are not the government. I have no problem with the people of China including their students and they should be welcome like any other foreign student. My issue is with the Institute as an extension of the government that does not represent the people and determines by edict what allowances they will make for them. That’s not bitterness; that’s what’s true. The rest is just a sale’s job.

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