Last week the University of Delaware announced its plan to terminate its ten-year relationship with the Confucius Institute, a cultural promotion organization connected to the Chinese government.
The University of Delaware is following in the footsteps of 20 other American universities who are breaking ties with the Chinese organization.
According to a student newspaper report, the University of Delaware announced its plan last week to end its partnership with the Confucius Institute in 2020. This institute has been accused of paying off American colleges in order to promote a pro-Beijing bias on college campuses across the country.
Although there are concerns about the shutdown of the University of Delaware’s Confucius Institute, Associate Deputy Provost Ravi Ammigan believes that the Institute’s closure will not decrease resources for international students or students wanting to study abroad.
“I don’t believe the UDCI situation will decrease service to international students,” Ammigan stated. “OISS ranks 19th globally for international students. I think that’s very telling.”
Several elected officials such as Senator Josh Hawley have called for a federal investigation of the Confucius Institute. The Missouri Senator sent a letter to university leaders in Missouri arguing that the Chinese government is using the Confucius Institute to clamp down on speech on American campuses.
In his letter, Hawley stated the following:
But Confucius Institutes are more than a means of cultural exchange. As Li Changchun, a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party, stated in 2009, the Confucius Institutes are ‘an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.’ Hanban is governed by the leaders of twelve Chinese ministries, including those handling foreign affairs, state media, and propaganda. Partnering universities sign contracts that prohibit them from ‘tarnishing the reputation’ of Hanban, and Hanban sends teachers and textbooks from China that are designed to promote a positive image of the PRC and suppress any discussion of the ‘three Ts’: Tibet, Taiwan, and Tiananmen Square. These Confucius Institutes are, in short, a tool for China to spread influence and exercise soft power in its rivalry with the United States.
China has come under increased scrutiny since drama between the NBA’s relationship with China has surfaced. Although China has made economic reforms that have slightly deviated from its totalitarian past, the country remains authoritarian and adversarial to American interests in many regards.
The presence of organizations like the Confucius Institute are ways that Beijing uses soft power to undermine the U.S. and advance pro-Chinese narratives abroad.
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