Teaching materials show the disputed territories of Tibet and Taiwan as Chinese. Norman Baker, President of Tibet Society, said: ‘The Confucius Institute is a Trojan horse to portray a version of the world favourable to the Communist Party in China. It is very disturbing that the party, through its front organisation, is peddling untrue information.’The Institute also works in UK schools is sponsored by the Beijing government
Chinese government is ‘spreading communist propaganda in Britain’s universities and schools’
The Chinese government has been accused of spreading propaganda in the UK
Confucius Institute, which operates in universities, is said to be a ‘Trojan horse’
By Jonathan Petre for The Mail on Sunday , 9 July 2017
The Chinese government has been accused of spreading propaganda to British university students and schoolchildren.
The Confucius Institute, which operates in 26 UK universities, aims to help teach the Chinese language and promote culture. But critics say it is a ‘Trojan horse’ designed to spread the views of the communist regime.
Teaching materials show the disputed territories of Tibet and Taiwan as clearly belonging to China, while tutors say they are told to avoid discussing sensitive subjects such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
One former tutor, Sonia Zhao, 31, said: ‘I wasn’t comfortable at all. I should have had the freedom to tell my students what I really thought about those issues.’
The Institute, which also works in primary and secondary schools, is sponsored by the Beijing government. It has previously been expelled from universities in the US, Canada and Japan because of concerns over ties with the Communist Party.
The Mail on Sunday has found that the Confucius Institute at University College London (UCL) had provided the controversial maps for schools.
Former Minister Norman Baker said: ‘The Confucius Institute is a Trojan horse to portray a version of the world favourable to the Communist Party in China. It is very disturbing that the party, through its front organisation, is peddling untrue information.’
Ellen Lees, of Students For A Free Tibet UK, called for an inquiry, describing the Institute as ‘a propaganda machine [that] pushes a false version of history’.
But defenders of the Institute say there is little hard evidence to show it promotes propaganda or suppresses free speech. And UCL said last night: ‘The Confucius Institute’s sole focus is the development of the teaching of Chinese language in schools.’
Criticism of Confucius Institutes
The Confucius Institute (CI) program, which began establishing centers for Chinese language instruction in 2004, has been the subject of criticisms, concerns, and controversies during its international expansion.
Many such concerns stem from the CI’s relationship to Chinese Communist Party authorities, giving rise to criticisms about undermining academic freedom at host universities, engaging in industrial and military espionage, surveillance of Chinese students abroad, and attempts to advance the Chinese government’s political agendas on controversial issues such as human rights, Taiwanand Tibet. Additional concerns have arisen over the institutes’ financial and academic viability, teaching quality, and relations with Chinese partner universities.
Confucius Institutes have defended their establishments, comparing them with other cultural promotion organizations such as Alliance française and Goethe-Institut. However, unlike the Alliance francaise or Goethe-Institut, many Confucius Institutes operate directly on university campuses, thus giving rise to unique concerns related to academic freedom and political influence. Some observers have noted that CIs are largely limited to teaching cultural and language programs, and the institutes’ staff tend to see political and controversial subjects as human rights and democracy as outside the context of the mission of a Confucius Institute.