Confucius Institutes – Chronicle Discussion
The current Chronicle of Higher Education has this piece, available to non-subscribers for a few days, on worries raised about academic freedom introduced by the proliferation of Confucius Institutes on university campuses.
For copyright reasons, I won’t cut and paste the whole article, but if anyone misses the “free article” window for this piece, here’s a pdf “printout” of it for private use: At U.S. Colleges, Chinese-Financed Centers Prompt Worries About Academic Freedom – Faculty – The Chronicle of Higher Education.
I will paste from the article, the following kernel of the worry:
Some faculty members and experts on Chinese politics worry, however, that the rapid proliferation of the institutes poses a threat to academic freedom and shared governance because of the way they involve the Chinese government in colleges’ affairs. Professors at the University of Chicago protested its decision to open an institute there, and University of Pennsylvania faculty members cited concerns about Chinese-government involvement in opting not to seek to establish one.
The institutes “perform a propaganda function,” says June Teufel Dreyer, a professor of political science at the University of Miami and a former member of the Congressionally established U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which monitors the implications of trade agreements between the two countries.
“It would be stupid,” Ms. Dreyer says, “for the Chinese government to spend money on something that did not further its interests.”
David Prager Branner, an adjunct associate professor of East Asian languages and culture at Columbia University who has studied the Confucius Institutes, says he fears that colleges with the institutes can become dependent on Chinese funds and thus susceptible to pressure from the Chinese government to stifle speech it opposes, such as expressions of support for Tibetan or Taiwanese independence. Foreign-language programs at American colleges, he says, are often so starved for resources that “they are not in a position to reject money, no matter where it comes from, or with what strings.”
Any thoughts about the issue?