U.S. Senate wants Confucius Institutes to change or shut down

Devdiscourse News Desk | Washington DC | Updated: 28-02-2019 04:39 IST | Created: 28-02-2019 04:22 IST
U.S. Senate wants Confucius Institutes to change or shut down
Image Credit: Flickr

China has provided over $158 million to U.S. schools for Confucius Institutes to promote Chinese culture, U.S. Senate investigators said on Wednesday, releasing a report saying the centres have acted as tightly controlled propaganda arms for Beijing and should be changed - or shut down.

The Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations spent eight months investigating the Confucius Institutes, which were created in 2004 to promote Chinese language and culture at schools and universities around the world. But the centres have been criticized, particularly in the United States, for promoting the views of the Chinese Communist party, assertions denied by both the institutes and the government.

China's government said on Feb. 24 that it plans to "optimize" the spread of the institutes and they will remain a key part of government policy. The new Senate report said China's government controls nearly every aspect of the institutes in the United States, including their funding, staff and programming. It also can veto any program or speaker.

The report was released amid a costly trade war between Washington and Beijing, which has seen President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials accuse the Chinese of using students as spies, stealing intellectual property and a range of other dirty tricks. Earlier on Wednesday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a House of Representatives committee that the United States will need to maintain the threat of imposing tariffs on Chinese goods for years even if a deal is struck to end the current dispute.

NO EVIDENCE OF ESPIONAGE The Senate investigators did not find evidence that staff at the Confucius Institutes were involved in espionage or other activity that would need reporting to law enforcement. But they did find many staff had obtained the wrong type of visa and that 70 per cent of U.S. colleges and universities that received at least $250,000 per year from the Chinese government did not report it as required by the Department of Education.

The report's recommendations included requiring that U.S. schools publish online all contracts with foreign governments, ensure hiring confirms to their rules, not Beijing's, and that the State Department review all visas and demand reciprocal treatment in China. "Absent full transparency regarding how Confucius Institutes operate and full reciprocity for U.S. cultural outreach efforts on U.S. campuses in China, Confucius Institutes should not continue in the United States," Senator Rob Portman, the subcommittee's Republican chairman, said in a statement.

Subcommittee investigators said they were considering legislation to ensure the centres complied with their recommendations. The subcommittee will hold a hearing on China's influence on U.S. education on Thursday. Officials at the Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Besides Confucius Institutes at 100 U.S. schools, Beijing also funds more than 500 "Confucius Classrooms" that teach Chinese language and culture in primary and high schools. The investigators said some of the U.S. universities' contracts with the Chinese government include non-disclosure provisions and require adherence to U.S. and Chinese law. They faulted the U.S. Department of Education for doing too little oversight.

Officials at the Education Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The report also said the U.S. State Department had tried to set up a program in China to promote U.S. culture, but that China had insisted on controlling the program to such an extent that the department stopped funding it in October.

(With inputs from agencies.)



Viral variants and vaccine nationalism pose two-pronged threat to Covid victory

... ...

Tracking Fintech during COVID-19: Harnessing power of technology

Its abundantly clear now that as fintech cements its place in the financial sector, accelerated further by the COVID-19 pandemic, it could open the sector to new possibilities by harnessing the power of technology to deliver financial ...

Tectonic turns: How technology shaped healthcare over the decades

Tracing an episodic evolution, with technology at the interface of human and his health....

World Water Day sees crises of inequality in countries both rich and poor

... ...


Latest News

UK's Frost says positive momentum in EU talks, difficult issues remain

Talks between Britain and the European Union on post-Brexit trade to Northern Ireland have seen some positive momentum but difficult issues remain, UK negotiator David Frost told his EU counterpart late on Thursday.Frost said that the inten...

Pete Davidson to play Joey Ramone in upcoming Netflix biopic

Actor-comedian Pete Davidson is set to star as punk rock legend Joey Ramone in an upcoming Netflix biopic I Slept With Joey Ramone.The project was announced on the 20th anniversary of Ramones death. The musician passed away on April 15, 200...

PSUs asked to dedicate hospital beds for COVID-19 management

To augment hospital infrastructure for management of severe cases of coronavirus, the Union Health Ministry has advised all central ministries to ask hospitals under their control or PSUs to set-up dedicated hospital wards or separate block...

It was satisfying to execute Shaw's well-planned dismissal: Unadkat

Rajasthan Royals seamer Jaydev Unadkat was extremely satisfied with a perfectly-laid trap for the in-form Prithvi Shaw as his dismissal triggered a top-order collapse from which Delhi Captals eventually failed to recover.Unadkats 3 for 15 w...

Give Feedback