Taiwan News reported that Belgian research university Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) announced on Wednesday, December 11, 2019 it will cease its partnership with the Chinese Communist Party-backed Confucius Institute next year after its contract expires in June 2020.
VUB has joined other European universities in breaking ties with the Confucius Institute. The Belgian university is following the actions of Leiden University, Stockholm University, University of Lyon, Stuttgart Media University, and University of Hohenheim, according to CNA.
CNA reports that the decision was made during a board meeting and it was done under the belief that collaboration was no longer in the school’s best interests. However, VUB emphasized that it would embrace future partnerships with universities and academics from China “as long as academic freedom and independence” are guaranteed, it declared in a statement.
VUB President Caroline Pauwels stated there must be respect for research freedom but the Confucius Institute appeared to not have met this requirement. Although the university supports international cooperation, she noted that it would instead focus on investing in young talent rather than “political regimes.”
The former dean of the VUB Confucius Institute had previously been denied the ability to enter Belgium because of espionage allegations. According to CNA, Beijing refuted these claims, describing them as ungrounded and with ulterior motives.
Confucius Institutes serve as global propaganda machines that serve Chinese interests. The Washington Post reported back in January at least 10 of these institutes have been closed at American universities after China has recently come under fire for its human rights records.
Despite the closure of this Confucius Institute in Belgium, there are still many of these institutes open on U.S. universities such as Stanford University, UCLA, and Columbia University. China’s authoritarianism of the past still lives on through its expansionist foreign policy that is very dependent on soft power.
For national security purposes and the sake of containing CCP influence in America, more American universities should shut their doors to the Confucius Institute.
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