A Canadian couple decided to pull their daughter out of a Confucius Institute in a school in their neighborhood.
The Fredericton, New Brunswick family decided to take their child out of this program because they believe it was used to brainwash their daughter.
Bronwyn Bonney and Parker Coates told the CBC they were surprised last year that they weren’t informed their daughter was enrolled in this program.
The Chinese government funds this program and uses teachers from China. Although it claims to provide a neutral discussion about China, many people believe Confucius Institutes serve as propaganda outlets for China and seek to spread its influence through soft power.
This Canadian couple is the first to voice their concerns publicly about Confucius Institutes.
The Confucius Institute teaches Chinese language and culture in New Brunswick schools but doesn’t allow anyone to ask questions about the country’s authoritarian government and human rights abuses.
“This program is inherently propaganda,” Bonney declared during an interview. “It’s propaganda in that it’s an effort to brainwash and influence people’s ideas of a certain place.
“The reasons why these partnerships exist is because China wants to enhance its soft power globally. That means teaching students a one-sided story about their country: how do we raise awareness of China being an exclusively wonderful place.”
Bonney and Coates were able to obtain copies of contracts between the province and the institute that demonstrate how much more difficult it has become for New Brunswick to end its partnership with the Confucius Institute.
The original 2007 contract allowed either party to cancel the agreement with six months’ notice.
However, the 2017 renewal agreement removed this clause after China requested a change in this agreement.
Since 2007, the Confucius Institute has been in New Brunswick and is present in 40 schools as of 2018. The Chinese government controls the course content.
The institute offers courses in Chinese language and culture which includes calligraphy, food and dance. However, Coates contends that this is propaganda by omission, because there is no mention of China’s authoritarianism.
“We’re talking about a nation that right now has hundreds of thousands of people in internment camps for having the wrong kind of Chinese culture,” Coates stated.
“Chinese citizens who are Muslim or Falun Gong are being incarcerated, and we’re welcoming this in to teach our children about Chinese culture. That just seems totally out of whack.”
Back in February, Education Minister Dominic Cardy announced that he wanted the institute to leave provincial schools by June.
However, Premier Blaine Higgs stated the government must fulfill its end of the contract, which doesn’t expire until 2022.
Bonney and Coates took their daughter out of the 30 minute sessions that take place once a week for the 2018-19 school year.
They stressed how much they enjoy Connaught Street School. They view it as “a warm and welcoming place” with great teachers on staff.
However, their concerns with the institute’s mission made them file right-to-information requests regarding its dealings with the province.
The documents unveiled the following:
- The original 2007 contract allowed the province or the institute to terminate the deal with six months’ notice, freeing them from “any further obligations,” but the 2017 version, which runs to 2022, prevents either side from pulling out “ahead of time.”
- The contract says if one side backs out, it must compensate the other side for “all the investment made under this Agreement, the legal expense and the indemnity for defamation.”
- A 2018 proposed syllabus for all 40 institute schools in the province suggests mixing China-approved social studies content with the existing New Brunswick curriculum, saying the institute’s material could be “introduced into local social subject, combined and match[ed] with local teachers’ lesson planning to complement each other.”
- The institute offers school and district officials 10-day trips to China every summer “to begin or strengthen their school’s Chinese programs and partnerships.” Participants pay for flights, but all expenses in China are covered by the institute.
Various universities in Canada, the U.S., Sweden and Germany have either broken their ties with Confucius Institutes in the last five years or did not renew their contracts because of concerns of China using these institutes to project its influence internationally.
The U.S. and other Western countries would be wise to discontinue relationships with these organizations.
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