The Chinese Communist Party’s Confucius Institute has been renamed to the Ministry of Education Centre for Language Education and Cooperation, according to a notice issued by the Ministry of Education of China, reported Taiwan News.
The name change seemingly implies a bigger focus on “cultural exchange,” however, there has been mounting criticism worldwide that the organization has served as a propaganda apparatus for Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“The Confucius Institute is an arm of the Chinese government’s propaganda machine,” said the University of California-Davis student Michael Gofman, referring to those centers used by the CCP to indoctrinate Americans and spread CCP propaganda.
Most of the agreements signed by universities with Confucius Institutes, which claim to be dedicated to spreading Chinese culture among other things, required them to ignore academic freedom and comply with Chinese law and the Beijing teaching evaluation.
In May 2020, a group of U.S. House of Representatives Republicans, led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) sent a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, alleging the CCP provides funds to U.S. universities in an effort to spread CCP propaganda and restricts probes into the CCP Virus, said Reuters.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also warned of CCP infiltration into the U.S. education system and the risk of espionage and technology theft that it poses, as laid out by Fox News.
He said, “We want Chinese students coming here to learn. But, we need to make sure that they’re doing so on a basis that is transparent and fair and that these students who come here aren’t under the long arm of Beijing, reporting back to their country in ways that our First Amendment doesn’t permit.”
Concern was also raised by Democrat and Republican students, who demand “the immediate and permanent closure of all Confucius Institutes in the United States,” dependent on the CCP.
“The Chinese government’s [CCP] flagrant attempts to coerce and control discourse at universities in the United States and around the world pose an existential threat to academic freedom as we know it,” student representatives stated in an open letter.
The students also expressed their concern about the threat to academic freedom posed by these institutions and listed the multiple attacks that are being carried out, used to impose the will of the CCP.
“[The CCP] has manipulated the world’s multilateral institutions in times of crisis, it has compromised our entertainment, news, and business communities, and it is committing crimes against humanity against Tibetans and Uighurs,” the bipartisan document declared.
Since 2014 at least 29 of the country’s Confucius Institutes have been closed in about 100 universities in the United States.
Universities around the globe including those from Canada, Australia, France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden have announced their decoupling with the institute over espionage allegations.
Hongkong Free Press cited a statement by Sun Yixue, from the International School of Tongji University in Shanghai, saying the name change was “related to various kinds of pressure, but it is by no means succumbing to them.”