Beijing On American Campuses: Here’s Every College With A Confucius Institute


beijing-on-american-campuses:-here’s-every-college-with-a-confucius-institute

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As tensions between China and the rest of the world mount due to the coronavirus outbreak, American and foreign lawmakers are growing evermore suspicious of Beijing’s influence on college campuses.

Most recently, Sweden decided to close all of its Confucius Institutes and classrooms as the country’s relationship with China further deteriorates into mutual suspicion. China launched the Confucius Institute program in 2004 with the stated goal of promoting Chinese culture and language, but it has been criticized for being a Trojan horse for Chinese-state propaganda. (RELATED: Harvard Professor’s Arrest For Lying About China Ties Is Part Of Ongoing Crackdown On Chinese Government Influence At American Campuses)

The Institute has been regarded as a promotion of Beijing’s soft power, and reports reflect a culture of self-censorship within the chapters so as to not defy the Beijing headquarters’, also known as the Hanban’s, wishes. 

Chinese consular staff wave national flags in front of a demonstration by supporters of the Falungong spiritual movement outside the venue where China's Vice President Xi Jinping was opening Australia's first Chinese Medicine Confucius Institute. ( WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

Chinese consular staff wave national flags in front of a demonstration by supporters of the Falungong spiritual movement outside the venue where China’s Vice President Xi Jinping was opening Australia’s first Chinese Medicine Confucius Institute. ( WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

For example, Portland State University’s Institute chapter had sponsored lectures on Tibet’s scenery, customs, and tourism in 2011, but the director noted that the group tries “not to organize and host lectures on certain issues related to Falun Gong, dissidents and 1989 Tiananmen Square protests” because these were not topics the Confucius Institute headquarters would like to see organized, Oregon Live reported

Glenn Anthony May, a professor of history at the University of Oregon, argued that there are three “T” words as anathema to the Chinese government: Taiwan, Tibet, and Tiananmen. Because these topics are sensitive in China, they will likely not be introduced or discussed in Confucius Institute teaching materials, according to the Jamestown Foundation

American lawmakers have been suspicious of China’s growing foreign influence operations on college campuses for years. Most notably, Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has warned of the threat of Confucius Institutes, saying that “the teaching of Chinese language and culture as a tool to expand the political influence of the PRC” in a 2018 letter to Florida colleges with Institute chapters.

The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs also called for stringent controls to be placed on Confucius Institutes in 2019, citing security threats.

As of April 2020, there are 86 Confucius Institutes in the United States, according to the National Association of Scholars. There were 103 in the US in April 2017, but 35 have closed or are in the process of closing, and several others are expected to close in the summer of 2020. 

Here is a list of the Confucius Institutes in the US that are currently operating or are expected to close, along with the year the chapter was opened at each respective college and school district, according to the National Associated of Scholars: 

  • Troy University
      • Started in 2007
  • Auburn University at Montgomery   
      • Started in 2012
  • Alabama A&M University
      • Started in 2014
  • University of Central Arkansas 
      • Started in 2008
  • University of Arizona
      • Started in 2007, expected to close July 30
  • University of California, Los Angeles
    •  Started in 2010
  • University of California, Davis
      • Started in 2012
  • San Diego Global Knowledge University
      • (Transferred in June 2019 from San Diego State University) Started in 2019
  • Stanford University
      • Started in 2013
  • California State University, Long Beach
      • Started in 2014
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
      • (Start date N/A)
  • Community College of Denver
      • Started in 2007
  • Colorado State University 
      • Started in 2012
  • Central Connecticut State University
      • Started in 2013
  • George Washington University
      • Started in 2013
  • Broward County Public Schools
      • (Start date N/A)
  • Emory University
      • Started in 2008
  • Kennesaw State University
      • Started in 2009
  • Georgia Regents University (Augusta University)
      • (Start date N/A)
  • Wesleyan College
      • Started in 2012
  • Georgia State University
      • Started in 2010
  • Savannah State University
      • (Start date N/A)
  • University of Idaho
      • Started in 2013
  • Northwest Nazarene University
      • (Start date N/A)
  • Chicago Public Schools
      • Started in 2005
  • Purdue University
      • Started in 2010
  • Valparaiso University
      • Started in 2007
  • Kansas State University
      • Started in 2014
  • Simpson County Schools
      • Started in 2019
  • University of Kentucky 
      • Started in 2010
  • Xavier University of Louisiana
      • Started in 2012
  • Tufts University
      • Started in 2014
  • University of Maryland
      • Expected to close summer 2020, started in 2005
  • University of Southern Maine
      • (Start date N/A)
  • Michigan State University
      • Started in 2006
  • Wayne State University
      • Started in 2007
  • Western Michigan University
      • Started in 2009
  • St. Cloud State University
      • Started in 2013
  • University of Missouri 
      • Expected to close August 2020, started in 2011
  • Webster University
      • Started in 2007
  • University of North Carolina, Charlotte
      • Started in 2007
  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln 
      • Started in 2007
  • University of New Hampshire
      • (Start date N/A)
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
      • Started in 2008
  • New Jersey City University 
      • Started in 2015
  • New Mexico State University
      • Expected to close summer 2020, started in 2007
  •  Clark County School District
      • (Start date N/A)
  • Pace University
      • Started in 2009
  • Medgar Evers College
      • Started in 2019
  • Alfred University
      • Started in 2009
  • Stony Brook University
      • Started in 2010
  • State University of New York-Albany
      • Started in 2013
  • State College of Optometry, State University of New York
      • Started in 2010
  • State University of New York Global Center
      • Started in 2010
  • Columbia University
      • Started in 2013
  • State University of New York at Buffalo
      • Started in 2010
  • Binghamton University
      • Started in 2009
  • Baruch University
      • Started in 2017
  • China Institute
      • Started in 2005
  • Miami University
      • Expected to close in June 2020, started in 2007
  • University of Akron
      • Started in 2008
  • Cleveland State University 
      • Started in 2008
  • University of Toledo
      • Started in 2009
  • East Central Ohio Educational Service Center
      • (Start date N/A)
  • University of Oklahoma
      • Started in 2006
  • Portland State University 
      • Started in 2007
  • University of Pittsburgh
      • Expected to close June 30, 2020; started in 2007
  • Temple University 
      • Started in 2014
  • Bryant University
      • Started in 2007
  • University of South Carolina
      • Started in 2008
  • Presbyterian College
      • Started in 2009
  • University of Memphis
      • Started in 2007
  • Middle Tennessee University
      • Started in 2010
  • Texas Southern University
      • Started in 2013
  • University of Texas at Dallas
      • Started in 2007
  • University of Texas at San Antonio 
      • Started in 2010
  • Houston Independent School District
      • (Start date N/A)
  • University of Utah
      • Started in 2010
  • Southern Utah University
      • Started in 2015
  • Davis School District
      • (Start date N/A)
  • College of William & Mary
      • Started in 2012
  • Old Dominion University
      • Started in 2013
  • George Mason University
      • Started in 2009
  • University of Washington/ Seattle Public Schools
      • Started in 2010
  • University of Wisconsin, Platteville
      • “Started in 2007
  • West Virginia University
    • Started in 2014

Supporters of the Falungong spiritual movement protest outside the venue where China's Vice President Xi Jinping was opening Australia's first Chinese Medicine Confucius Institute. (WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

Supporters of the Falungong spiritual movement protest outside the venue where China’s Vice President Xi Jinping was opening Australia’s first Chinese Medicine Confucius Institute. (WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

Here is a list of the Confucius Institute’s chapters that have closed or plan to close, followed by the reason for closing according to NAS:

  • University of Chicago
      • The university said that offensive comments from Xu Lin, director- general of the Hanban, led the university to close its Confucius Institute: An official “Statement on the Confucius Institute at the University of Chicago” said that “recently published comments about UChicago in an article about the director-general of Hanban are incompatible with a continued equal partnership.”
  • Pennsylvania State University
      • Dean Susan Welch told Inside Higher Ed that “several of our goals are not consistent with those of the Office of Chinese Languages Council International, known as the Hanban, which provides support to Confucius Institutes throughout the world.”
  • University of Pittsburgh
    • “Despite 12 years of impact and successes across our region, the CI-Pitt program has experienced increasing scrutiny by U.S. federal agencies. And, notwithstanding our best efforts in political and legal circles, restrictions have impeded the University’s capacity to effectively maintain our role in this partnership. Therefore, we will be closing the CI-Pitt, effective June 30, 2020.”
  • Pfeiffer University
      • Moved to University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Tulane University
      • No stated reason
  • University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
      • Daily Illini reported in March 2018 that according to Interim University Provost John Wilkin, “The institute was shut down when the University’s funding was not substantial enough to maintain it, but the University is exploring the opportunity to reestablish the institute on campus.”
  • University of West Florida
      • February 2018 Pensacola News Journal reported that according to George Ellenberg, senior vice president and provost, a “lack of student interest” led the university to decide in fall 2017 not to renew the contract when it expired in May 2018. Ellenberg said, “We determined that we weren’t really getting adequate return in terms of student interest and decided to discontinue it.”
  • Texas A&M University
      • Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Shields cited a letter from two Congressmen as the key reason for the university system’s decision: “They have access to classified information we do not have. We are terminating the contract as they suggested.”
  • Prairie View A&M University
      • Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Shields cited a letter from two Congressmen as the key reason for the university system’s decision: “They have access to classified information we do not have. We are terminating the contract as they suggested.”
  • University of Iowa
      • The University of Iowa announced its plans to close seven centers due to cuts in state funding. The contract for the Confucius Institute will not be renewed upon its expiration on July 31, 2019.
  • University of North Florida
      • The University of North Florida announced its plans to close the Confucius Institute in six months (February 2019). A statement on the university’s website says, “After reviewing the classes, activities and events sponsored over the past four years and comparing them with the mission and goals of the University, it was determined that they weren’t aligned.”
  • North Carolina State University 
      • North Carolina State University announced it intends to close its Confucius Institute in June 2019, as part of a project to “restructure” its Asia programming. A statement from University Communications on the university’s website says, “After June 2019, NC State will no longer offer academic and cultural programs through the Confucius Institute (CI). This transition is part of NC State’s efforts to create a more comprehensive Asia strategy led by the Office of Global Engagement, of which Chinese language and culture programs will continue to play a significant role.”
  • University of Michigan
      • James Holloway, vice provost for global engagement and interdisciplinary academic affairs, said the university would bring more of its China studies programs in- house: “This transition is driven by a desire to more broadly include the work of exploring and studying Chinese visual and performing arts within U-M’s regular academic and cultural units.” However, the university announced that it remains open to working with the Hanban in other ways: “Meanwhile, U-M is in communication with Hanban, exploring alternative ways to support the greater U-M community to continuously engage with Chinese artistic culture.”
  • University of South Florida
      • USF cited the national security concerns that members of Congress have raised, along with falling student enrollment. Only 65 students enrolling in Confucius Institute classes in fall 2018.
  • University of Rhode Island
      • A spokeswoman told WPRI 12 that the university was concerned the Confucius Institute could jeopardize federal funding to the university.
  • University of Massachusetts, Boston
      • Katherine Newman, the interim chancellor at UMass Boston, declined to give a specific reason in an interview with Boston’s Commonwealth Magazine, but said the university will pursue new negotiations with Renmin University of China to develop other ways to promote Chinese language and culture.
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville
      • Gretchen Neisler, vice provost for international affairs, said the university will maintain a partnership with Southeast University in China but close its Confucius Institute in spring 2019 in order to make its Asia programs more flexible. “Our global efforts must be nimble; from the languages we teach to the research opportunities we pursue, we have to stay relevant and keep an eye on the future. It’s easier for us to do that if we’re running our own program.”
  • University of Minnesota 
      • Meredith McQuaid, associate vice president and dean of international programs, said the university would have lost federal funding as a result of the NDAA ban on Pentagon funding to Confucius Institute-linked programs. McQuaid also said “The Chinese language teaching community in greater Minnesota … has definitely grown and matured over the last decade. Their needs have evolved,” such that the CI is no longer needed.
  • University of Montana
      • According to The Missoulian, Deena Mansour, director of the Mansfield Center where the Confucius Institute was based, “Identifying alternate funding sources will allow us the freedom to assess the best way to support mutual relations between the U.S. and China within the Priorities for Action framework,” referencing UM’s plan to set priorities.
  • Indiana University, Purdue University
      • “This decision ensures ongoing operations of some programs within IU impacted by federal changes surrounding Chinese language programs,” university spokesman Chuck Carney told the Washington Post.
  • Western Kentucky University
      • “The decision to close the CI, which has operated at WKU since 2010, came when the University could not secure a waiver from the Department of Defense that would allow WKU to operate both the CI and the Chinese Flagship Program.”
  • University of Oregon
    • “The University of Oregon is closing its Confucius Institute because a new law approved by Congress last year prohibits academic institutions from running such a program if they receive U.S. Department of Defense funding for Chinese language programs.”
  • Northern State University
      • “The decision was made after a thorough review of Northern’s international programs and activities. The university seeks to shift resources strategically toward services more aligned with its mission, including study abroad programs.”
  • San Francisco State University
      • Reason N/A
  • University of Hawaii, Manoa
      • “The University of Hawai’i at Mānoa closed its Confucius Institute effective May 31, 2019, in order to maintain federally funded research and educational opportunities for its faculty and students. “
  • Arizona State University
      • Reason N/A
  • San Diego State University 
      • “SDSU closed and transferred the [Confucius Institute] on June 30, 2019 to San Diego Global Knowledge University. ” Instead, the university is “launching a new Chinese Cultural Center.”
  • Miami Dade College
      • The college said in a statement to Politico that the decision was “due to low and declining enrollment that does not justify the operational cost.”
  • University of Delaware   
      • Associate Deputy Provost Ravi Ammigan said “It was simply a decision made due to decreased activity.”
  • University of Kansas
      • The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the decision is “because of a 2018 law that restricts Department of Defense funds to universities that host Confucius Institutes.”
  • University of Missouri
      • “We were notified by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs this past July that due to changes in State Department guidance, we would now be required to have a certified Mandarin Chinese language teacher in every classroom with a Confucius Institute staff member,” which the university found cost-prohibitive, said Mary Stegmaier, interim vice provost for international programs.
  • University of Maryland
      • President Wallace Loh said the National Defense Authorization Act for 2019 “includes language that prevents organizations that host a [Confucius Institute] from participating in certain federally funded programs.”
  • University of Alaska, Anchorage
      • Budget pressures
  • New Mexico State University
      • “NMSU cited low enrollment and “funding issues” with the Office of Chinese Language Council International, the institute’s headquarters in Beijing (commonly referred to as “Hanban”), in its decision to close the institute.”
  • University of Arizona
      • “Changes in federal law and policy”
  • University of Miami   
    • Global Initiatives Program to take over programming

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