Politico Magazine is reporting an interesting story about Chinese government-run educational institutes which are opening on college campuses nationwide. and that includes one here in South Dakota at Northern State University:
But the Confucius Institutes’ goals are a little less wholesome and edifying than they sound—and this is by the Chinese government’s own account. A 2011 speech by a standing member of the Politburo in Beijing laid out the case: “The Confucius Institute is an appealing brand for expanding our culture abroad,” Li Changchun said. “It has made an important contribution toward improving our soft power. The ‘Confucius’ brand has a natural attractiveness. Using the excuse of teaching Chinese language, everything looks reasonable and logical.”
Li, it now seems, was right to exult. More than a decade after they were created, Confucius Institutes have sprouted up at more than 500 college campuses worldwide, with more than 100 of them in the United States—including at The George Washington University, the University of Michigan and the University of Iowa. Overseen by a branch of the Chinese Ministry of Education known colloquially as Hanban, the institutes are part of a broader propaganda initiative that the Chinese government is pumping an estimated $10 billion into annually, and they have only been bolstered by growing interest in China among American college students.
Yet along with their growth have come consistent questions about whether the institutes belong on campuses that profess to promote free inquiry. Confucius Institutes teach a very particular, Beijing-approved version of Chinese culture and history: one that ignores concerns over human rights, for example, and teaches that Taiwan and Tibet indisputably belong to Mainland China. Take it from the aforementioned Li, who also said in 2009 that Confucius Institutes are an “important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.” Critics also charge that the centers have led to a climate of self-censorship on campuses that play host to them.
Instead, Confucius Institutes continue their forward march. In 2015, they opened at Tufts University, New Jersey City University, Southern Utah University and Northern State University in South Dakota.
It seems that Beijing probed, and found a weakness: money. It may be intellectually indefensible for universities to host Confucius Institutes, but at a time of reduced funding, it makes eminent sense. How ironic that the ostensibly communist Chinese seem to understand financial imperatives better than we Yankees do.
Well.. that’s not something I expected to read on a Sunday afternoon. Chinese Government Propaganda institutes at Northern State University. I’d say it sounds like a Lora Hubbel campaign line, but it’s actually coming from Politico Magazine.
If you want to see for yourself….
…click here to visit NSU’s information on the Confucius Institute.