The Confucius Institutes have been closed down worldwide as many countries recognized the true purpose of Beijing’s social infiltration and propaganda spreading. As these institutes close, China has relied on another tool: China Luban Workshop. This is a training center aimed at helping train key talents for the Belt and Road Initiative.
According to the South China Morning Post, since 2016, there have been at least 20 China-backed vocational training centers opening in 19 countries.
The workshops are organized by local organizations in the host country with connections to vocational schools in Tianjin under the guidance of China’s Ministry of Education. On the surface, the workshops upgrade the skills and expertise of the local workforce.
But many training sessions are directly linked to the Belt and Road Initiative investment projects.
In Djibouti, a country in East Africa, the first batch of students to be trained will work on the China-funded Asia-Djibouti Railway.
According to state media reports, more than 3,000 students have received certifications from Luban Workshops, with a further 12,000 currently being trained.
The report said that unlike the infamous Confucius Institute, which has received widespread attention, China Luban Workshop is little known in the West, and rarely mentioned outside Chinese media.
Dirk van der Kley, a research fellow with the Australian National University, said:
“Rich democracies have perhaps not noticed because most of the workshops are in emerging economies.”
He added, “It is also an inducement that could – in theory – be used as a sweetener to help Chinese firms win projects in other markets.”