by WorldTribune Staff, November 26, 2018
North Carolina State University announced that it will shut down its Chinese government-funded Confucius Institute by June of next year.
There are more than 100 Confucius Institutes on U.S. college campuses. The institutes teach a Chinese Communist Party-approved version of Chinese culture and history which ignores concerns over human rights and instructs that Taiwan and Tibet indisputably belong to China.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this year that Chinese operatives were infiltrating college campuses through the Confucius Institutes and “exploiting the very open research and development environment that we have, which we all revere.”
“We’re certainly aware of the concerns that are circulating around Confucius Institutes,” NC State Provost Warwick Arden said.
Related: Confucius? FBI probes ‘institutes’ as China’s ‘whole-of-society’ influence op, Feb. 20, 2018
Arden said that NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson received inquiries about the Confucius Insitute, but no “specific factual concerns.”
“What we really wanted to do was develop a China/Asia strategy that was independent, that was not funded by the Chinese government, that was consistent with our strategy in other areas of the world, and refocus on our core mission of opening opportunities for our faculty and our students.,” he said, adding, “we felt that this was a good time to make the transition.”
The Raleigh News & Observer reported that Confucius Institute programs “were open to students inside and outside NC State, and the institute trained 1,300 Chinese language instructors throughout North Carolina.”
The institute’s instructors are paid by the Chinese government for two-year assignments at the U.S. facilities. NC State’s institute received about $300,000 annually in recent years from Hanban, a Chinese language office affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education, the News & Observer report said.
The National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Donald Trump in August prohibited Pentagon-funded language programs at universities that also have Confucius Institutes, unless those universities secured a waiver, according to media reports on the defense spending bill.
Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, has been a major critic of the Confucius Institutes. Rubio in February posted on his website a letter he wrote to five colleges in Florida urging them to terminate their agreements with the Chinese government, citing “China’s aggressive campaign to ‘infiltrate’ American classrooms, stifle free inquiry, and subvert free expression both at home and abroad.”
At least one campus, the University of North Florida, closed its institute.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, said last year he had asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate Confucius Institutes and asked all host colleges to make their Confucius contracts accessible to the public, according to the Congressional Record.