Gift Horse or Trojan Horse?

Confucius Institutes (CIs) are created and funded by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and governed by high-ranking officials of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Senior members of the CCP describe CIs as a way to extend China’s soft power and political influence worldwide.

CIs operate under a government agency called Hanban. Hanban decides who teaches at CIs, what they teach, and the materials they use. 

This has led the two largest associations of university professors in North American to call for an end to all partnerships with CIs due to the threat to academic autonomy and academic freedom at host universities.

Although the PRC/CCP named CI after Confucius, this well known ancient Chinese philosopher and educator has been an ideological target of the CCP and in past decades his teachings were strictly prohibited.

CIs teach simplified Chinese characters that are only used in mainland China which could limit students’ Chinese literacy to PRC sources and exclude information from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan etc.

Critics say CIs have nothing to do with Confucius or Confucianism except to provide a brand name that draws on people’s positive impressions of the philosopher.

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