A recent report indicates that Chinese cultural organizations in America that closed after being named foreign agencies by the US government have reopened under new names.

The National Association of Scholars, a non-profit organization supporting education, released the report. He said the Confucius Institutes, cultural organizations linked to the Chinese Communist Party, are reopening under different names or reorganizing.

Most institutes closed after being appointed a foreign mission by the US State Department. A foreign mission is an office that performs diplomatic or similar work for a foreign government.

Of 118 Confucius Institutes that once operated in the United States, 104 have closed or are in the process of closing, according to the report.

Of these, “at least 28 have replaced their Confucius Institute with a similar program, and at least 58 have maintained close relationship with their former Confucius Institute partner,” the report said.

FILE – A student, left, displays her painting during a traditional Chinese painting class at the Confucius Institute at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia May 2, 2018.

Important for China

In April 2007, Li Changchun was a senior propaganda official and a member of the Communist Party of China (CCP) Central Committee. He told Chinese state-run newspaper Xinhua that the Confucius Institutes were an “important part of the CCP”. external propaganda structure.

Critics viewed the institutes as propaganda machines for the CCP. They also saw them as a tool for monitor and interfere with speech and activities in American universities. For example, in 2009, North Carolina State University canceled plans to invite the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, to speak after objections from the Confucius Institute.

Ten years later, in 2019, the US Department of Defense announced that it would not provide financial support to universities that had Confucius Institutes. In August 2020, the US State Department designated the Confucius Institute US Center as a Chinese Foreign Mission to the United States. The center was considered the headquarters of the Confucius Institutes in the United States

Organizations designated as foreign missions must provide reports to the U.S. government on finances, employees, educational materials, and activities that take place in the United States.

American schools were cutting ties with the curriculum even before the State Department discovered it.

In July 2020, the Chinese government reorganized and renamed the parent department of Confucius Institutes. It is now called the Center for Language Exchange and Cooperation (CLEC) of the Ministry of Education.

Xinhuanet is a state-controlled news service in China. He said CLEC had established a separate organization, the Chinese International Education Foundation (CIEF). The CIEF financially supports and supervises the Confucius Institutes and many of their successors.

Name change only

On July 1, 2021, a day after the closure of its Confucius Institute, William and Mary College established the W&M-BNU collaborative partnership with Beijing Normal University, the school said. The Chinese university was the former partner of the Confucius Institute of the American School. He provided the programs that the Confucius Institute offered.

Rachelle Peterson is a senior researcher at the National Association of Scholars and one of the report’s writers. She said nothing had changed except the name.

Influence Debate

Perry Link is Professor of Chinese Language Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Link said that although the Confucius Institutes cannot censor students, their influence on educators is exercised in other ways.

He said, “If you are at the Confucius Institute and you create programs with CCP money, would you hold a memorial event for the Tiananmen Square Massacre? Of course not. Are there any written rules preventing you from doing so? No. Did anyone above tell you not to? No. It’s self-censorship, it’s psychological.”

Jonathan Sullivan is a China scholar and professor of political science at the University of Nottingham in Britain. He participated in the studies of the Confucius Institutes in their original form. He told VOA in an email that fears about what they were doing were “exaggerated.”

He said the students should learn the Chinese language and culture. But governments in many countries have not stepped in to support ways for students to study Chinese language and culture outside Confucius Institutes.

I am Faith Pirlo.

Lin Yang reported this story for Voice of America. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English.

Quiz – The Confucius Institutes Return to American Schools Under a New Name

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words in this story

designate – v. to officially choose (someone or something) to do or be something

maintain – v. to continue to have or to do (something)

external – adj. concerning foreign relations

monitor – v. to watch, observe, listen to or verify (something) for a particular purpose for a period of time

censor – v. remove parts of a book or film that are considered offensive or a political threat

psychological – adj. of or pertaining to the spirit

original –adj. occurring or existing first or at the beginning

exaggerated – adj. that is made to appear larger, more impressive, or more important than it actually is


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