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China Voice: Fear, ignorance behind calls to stem Confucius Institutes

English.news.cn   2014-06-24 00:27:09

BEIJING, June 23 (Xinhua) -- The great Chinese sage Confucius might have pardoned the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) for their criticism of Confucius Institutes might come from either fear of other cultures or ignorance -- or both.

In a recent statement, the AAUP called on universities to cease their cooperation with the institutes, saying the institutes are "ignoring" academic freedom.

It claimed that Confucius Institutes function as an arm of the Chinese state and are pushing political agendas since they are sponsored by Hanban, a state office dealing with Chinese culture run by the Chinese government and the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Such claims expose not so much communist propaganda as their own intolerance of exotic cultures and biased preconceived notions to smear and isolate the CPC.

The shaping of traditional Chinese culture in the past thousands of years hardly has any direct relations with communism or its ideology, and those seeking to stem Confucius Institutes as disseminators of world culture are trying to hold back a pure form of human communication.

Since the first one was set up in Seoul, in the Republic of Korea, a decade ago, 440 Confucius Institutes and 646 Confucius Classrooms have opened across 120 countries and regions. More than 70 top 200 universities in the world have their own Confucius Institutes.

How could such rapid expansion be possible if Confucius Institutes are propaganda outlets and threaten academic freedom?

After all, these organizations are dedicated to the education and research of Chinese language and culture -- not unlike British Councils of the U.K., Germany's Goethe Institut and the Alliance Francaise from France.

For the information of those accusing the Confucius Institutes of "having control of hiring staff, choosing the curriculum and restricting teaching materials," a management committee of such an institute consists of both Chinese and foreign experts and scholars, including many Western professors and university presidents, who have their say in decision-making.

As China gains fast economic development, its language and culture are also becoming more attractive and practical across the world. Both Chinese people and foreigners should have confidence in this culture -- a unique contribution from this populous country to world peace.

If Confucius were alive today, he might respond with his own saying: To feel no discomposure by those who don't know me, isn't that what is expected of a gentleman?

Editor: yan
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