Criticism of Confucius Institutes unfair
Updated: 2014-10-30 07:21
By Wang Hui(China Daily)
The Department of Education in Hunan province sought to terminate its cooperative relationship with the Toronto District School Board on Oct 23 over a Confucius Institute program.
The Chinese side said it deeply regretted the unfounded suspicions and opposition that it has encountered with respect to the cultural project.
This is not the first time the country's efforts to set up a Confucius Institute has met with unfair criticism.
The program serves as a bridge between China and the rest of the world and provides a way to deepen mutual understanding and forge friendships. But the institutes have been attacked over the years for their ties to the Chinese government.
In the United States, critics have said the institutes impede academic freedom. In the Toronto case, one of the bashers indulged in a wild fantasy, calling the program a "Trojan Horse" that can be used for spying.
Those who dislike Confucius Institutes are more often than not people who have a deep bias against China. They seem unable to avoid putting a political label on what is nothing but a language and cultural program - a high quality one at that.
Some people apparently need a new pair of corrective lenses to help them see the institutes in a more objective and impartial way.
Despite occasional dissonance, the nonprofit Confucius Institutes have thrived outside China in the past 10 years and gained worldwide popularity. Since the first institute was created in Uzbekistan in 2004, about 460 others, along with more than 710 Confucius Classrooms, have been set up in 123 countries and regions around the globe.
The purpose of setting up the institutes is to help people in the rest of the world learn the Chinese language, to know more about the Chinese culture and to enhance mutual understanding and friendship. All Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms have been set up after voluntary applications by universities and other schools, and through friendly negotiations. So concerns about academic freedom are unnecessary.