Controversy Surrounds Confucius Institutes at American Universities—The Epoch Times (US)

Toronto Film
Doris Liu, director of "In the Name of Confucius” listens attentively at the panel discussion on Confucius Institutes. (Gary Feuerberg/ The Epoch Times)

A 2016 Canadian documentary and a new investigative report recommend academic institutions sever ties with their Confucius Institutes.

WASHINGTON—Since 2005, the Chinese government has been funding Confucius Institutes (CI) in the United States—a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. For example, it gave $4 million to Stanford University as a onetime gift. What is behind the largesse? Does the China regime just want to promote Chinese culture or is there something more insidious about its intentions?

To address this question, the National Association of Scholars (NAS) commissioned a report released in April, “Outsourced to China: Confucius Institutes and Soft Power in American Higher Education.” NAS, consisting primarily of current or former university professors, describes itself as an independent association seeking to foster “intellectual freedom and academic excellence in American higher education.”

The report’s author, Rachelle Peterson, presented her findings at an event hosted by Alliance Defending Freedom on April 26.

To better understand the role of Confucius Institutes in American higher education, Peterson, who is director of Research Projects at NAS, examined 12 Confucius Institutes—two in New Jersey and 10 in New York. It was a challenge to conduct the research. Most of the CI’s she studied were not very forthcoming and in some instances, very hostile to her research.

Following the report’s discussion, the U.S. premiere of the documentary, “In the Name of Confucius,”  was shown. It reenacts the personal story of former CI Mandarin teacher and Falun Gong practitioner Sonia Zhao. She exposed secrets of the CI program that led to the first closure of a Confucius Institute in North America. The film also profiles contentious scenes taken at Canada’s largest school board, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), as it debated the CI program. Shown also were boisterous public protests in Canada for and against CIs.

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