The Corner

Education

Confucius Is Fine; Confucius Institutes Aren’t

For more than a decade, the Chinese government has been trying to establish “Confucius Institutes” in American colleges and universities. It puts up some of the needed funding and often provides the instructors as well. What’s not to like?

What’s not to like is the way the Chinese use them to try to affect American perceptions of Chinese government policies. The National Association of Scholars released a highly critical report on Confucius Institutes in the spring and I write about it in this Martin Center article.

The Chinese government cares about as much for academic freedom as it does economic freedom, so the depiction of China is not exactly “warts and all.” Instead, instructors are trained to avoid discussions that stray into “bad” subjects such as Tibet and Taiwan. In sum, they are an aspect of Chinese propaganda. A few years ago, the University of Chicago pulled the plug in the Confucius Institute that had been established there, and I’m persuaded that the colleges that still have them should follow Chicago’s lead.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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