Swedish education is paid by China: “You in the West are naive”
(This article is translated from Swedish to English by google translate.)
China finances education of Swedish school students. In Luleå, high school students learn Chinese thanks to a collaboration with the Chinese state.
– You are very naive in the West. You do not understand what the Chinese government is trying to achieve, says filmmaker Doris Liu, who has reviewed the so-called Confucius institutions.
(By Mikael Törnwall Feb 24 2019)
Is it an attempt to sneak into Chinese propaganda in Western classrooms and universities, or a legitimate project to spread knowledge of the country’s culture and language?
The battle is about the so-called confucius institutions, which have been named by the philosopher Confucius, who lived 2500 years ago.
Chinese-born filmmaker Doris Liu, who now lives in Canada, warns of the country’s soft power, or soft power. She is currently in Sweden to show her documentary film “In the name of Confucius”.
– Instead of using military power, the Chinese government wants to win our sympathy by teaching about culture and Chinese language. They know that if we are more sympathetic to Chinese culture we will be less likely to criticize them for violating human rights, she says when SvD interviews her after the film has been shown in Stockholm.
In the film, she follows students in the US and Canada, and shows anything but subtle attempts to influence Canadian schoolchildren. Among other things, they learn to sing songs of praise to Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party.
The film depicts relationships a few years ago – and then the state organization Hanban, which is behind the institutes, is open with the teachers sent out of China having to be loyal to the Communist Party. The teachers did not, among other things, be practitioners of Falun gong, a movement that is a kind of mixture of meditation, spirituality and physical exercises. The movement’s element of religion is something that has long frightened the Atheist Communist Party.
Photo: Doris Liu
Why did you devote yourself to such an obvious propaganda when there was a great risk that they would be criticized for it?
– It will naturally happen to them to act like that. The whole people, including myself, have grown up with this propaganda. They did not understand that it does not work in the West, says Doris Liu.
– After the criticism, one has tried to adjust. But even though the worst species have disappeared, one must remember that their teachers are now also educated by the Chinese government.
At most, there have been several hundred Confucius institutions around the world, of which one handful is in Sweden. However, the extensive criticism of the business has led to a large number of institutions being closed down, including the one in Toronto which is part of Doris Luis’ film and those that were connected to Stockholm University and Blekinge University of Technology.
Doris Liu thinks that China instead tries to find other ways to get the same message. As an example, she points to the Chinese cultural institutes, one of which has been in Stockholm since 2016.
– They have the same goal, to soften the image of how the outside world views the government of China, but they are less alarming to the West than the Confucius Institutions.
The cultural centres do not have the same model as the Confucius institutions. While the latter are always linked to a university or school, the centres are independent units.
One thus avoids the criticism that the government of a foreign power is responsible for teaching in Swedish schools.
In Sweden today, the institutes are still in Borlänge and in Luleå, where Hanban collaborates with both Luleå University of Technology and with the municipality’s upper secondary school.
– My impression is that you are very naive in the West. You don’t understand what the Chinese government is trying to accomplish, says Doris Liu.
– The West is based on universal values of freedom, human rights and democracy. You do not want to understand that China stands for something completely different.
But does China not have the same right as any other country to spread its culture?
– There is no fault in spreading culture. All countries have the right to do so. It is quite legitimate. The difference is how you do it and what you have for purpose.
Swedish Title：Svensk undervisning betalas av Kina: ”Ni i väst är naiva”
Source (Swedish) : https://www.svd.se/kritik-mot-att-kina-betalar-for-svensk-undervisning-naivt