June 21st, 2014
EDUCATIONAL EXCHANGES between the United States and China have grown to record numbers. With these programs come scholarly value but also risks.
Confucius Institutes offer an example of this trade-off. These centers, heavily funded and supported by the Chinese government, offer Chinese language and culture classes around the world. But unlike Germany’s Goethe-Institut or the U.K.’s British Council, many are established directly inside U.S. universities. It’s this combination of linkage and Chinese control that carries risk.
Last week, the American Association of University Professors called on almost a hundred U.S. universities to reexamine their ties with Beijing’s signature cultural outpost. “Occasionally university administrations have entered into partnerships that sacrificed the integrity of the university,” the association wrote. “Confucius Institutes function as an arm of the Chinese state and are allowed to ignore academic freedom.”