The Confucius Institute
March 30, 2014
Professor W. Lee McCorkle
In recent years the Chinese government started the government funded Confucian Institute and made Chinese teaching available to countries and universities which otherwise would not have been able to afford it. Confucian Institutes all over the world teach the language and culture of the Chinese people, as well as providing a program that could change the way students relate to China. The name “Confucian” is, in my opinion, a lure for those who think this program may be about Confucius’s teachings or religion, and it can be misleading. The Institute in fact is more concerned with general cultural and language studies. With more than 400 campuses accommodating the Institute, it is becoming quite common, however with the increase in new campuses controversy also arises. There are about 70 Confucian Institutes in the US, 11 in Canada and 11 in Europe, according to an article that talks about the controversy surrounding one of the Canadian Institutes (Marcus, 2013). The McMaster University near Toronto claimed that the Institute violates human rights through its hiring practices. An instructor in the programme, Sonia Zhao stepped down from her post because she was forced to hide her affiliation with Falun Gong, a movement that stems from qigong, and which focuses on physical and spiritual wellbeing, and because she could not speak freely about certain things with her students. She was instructed in China not to discuss any political topic related to China (Marcus, 2013). Her case and the sensitivity of the Canadian government about human rights violations, two more universities in Canada declined to have the Institute on their campus. Although there may be more problems with the political expression, and freedom of speech inside the Institute, the programme enables many universities to have Chinese language and culture education who may not be able to...
References: Marcus, J. (2013, April4). West’s Universities Reconsider China-funded Confucius Institutes. Times Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/wests-universities-reconsider-china-funded-confucius-institutes/2002870.fullarticle
Molloy, M. (2010). Experiencing the World’s Religions: Tradition, Challenge, and Change. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
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