Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) is joining concerned individuals as well as students, teachers, parents and Chinese and Tibetans who have raised concerns over the Chinese government-backed Confucius Institutes. Students for a Free Tibet started campaigning after first-hand account testimonies, as well as media reports have featured concerning incidents of censorship and threats to academic freedom
Facts about the Confucius Institutes
- The first Confucius Institute was established in Seoul, South Korea, in 2004. By December 2014, there were 475 Confucius Institute worldwide according to Confucius Institutes Headquarters
- Hanban, the Office of Chinese Language Council International, aims to establish Confucius Institute branches in 500 large cities worldwide by 2020; 500 Confucius Institutes by the end of 2015 with a target goal of 1.5 million registered students, as reported in Chinese online news
- According to China Daily, the Chinese government provides US$100,000 – US$200,000 a year to many of the universities hosting a Confucius Institute and sometimes more. In 2013, funding totaled US$278 million, more than six times the amount spent in 2006.
“Say no to China’s Confucius Institutes” Campaign
- “Say no to China’s Confucius Institutes” aims to stop the Chinese government from using the Confucius Institutes as a platform to spread government propaganda and to distort information about human rights in Tibet and China in educational institutions.
- Students for a Free Tibet took part in a campaign that terminated the Toronto District School Board’s Confucius Institute on October 29, 2014.
- Since November 2014, Students for a Free Tibet has sent letters of concern to more than 200 senior university administrators worldwide, covering 30 countries. Students for a Free Tibet aims to send letters to all Confucius Institute organizations worldwide by the end of May 2015.
- Example of a university response received by Students for a Free Tibet: “We accept that the Confucius institute is one of many arms of the Chinese government’s outreach to the rest of the world and, as such, is a potential source of propaganda. However, the USA is not at war with China”.
- Solutions offered to administrative decision makers by SFT:
- Rejection of non-disclosure and compliance with Chinese law clauses
- Introduction of a public review process of Confucius Institutes by third parties
- The termination of current Confucius Institutes and the cessation of new C.Is being opened
Schools/Institutions that have terminated CI’s
Osaka Sangyo University (March 2010)
McMaster University (July 31, 2013)
University of Lyon (September 24, 2013)
University of Sherbrooke (December 31, 2013)
University of Chicago (September 25, 2014)
Pennsylvania State University (October 1, 2014)
Toronto District School Board (October 30, 2014)
Stockholm University (June 30, 2015)
Read editorials and news analysis about Confucius Institutes:
The Economist (2009): A message from Confucius: http://www.economist.com/node/14678507
John Sudworth, British Broadcasting Corporation News (2014), Confucius institute: The hard side of China’s Soft Power: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-30567743
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Education (2014): Confucius Controversies: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/07/24/debate-renews-over-confucius-institutes
The Washington Post (2014): The price of Confucius Institutes: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-price-of-confucius-institutes/2014/06/21/4d7598f2-f7b6-11e3-a3a5-42be35962a52_story.html
The Daily Telegraph (2016), Parents worried about Confucius Classrooms program in north shore public schools: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/north-shore/parents-worried-about-confucius-classrooms-program-in-north-shore-public-schools/news-story/df4e9a86acf0969c2fc03a313aa7d62f
Read about the Confucius Institutes on Chinese Media:
Xinhua News (2014), China’s Confucius Institutes to reach 500 global cities by 2020: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2013-03/11/c_132225228.htm
China Daily USA (2015), Useless fuss over Confucius Institutes: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2015-01/13/content_19303807.htm