ChinaNovember 3 2022, 13:49 pm

Scottish Politician Defends Chinese Confucius Institutes in Wake of Possible UK Closure

Scot­tish media is report­ing a promi­nent Scot­tish politi­cian has defend­ed Chi­nese Con­fu­cius Insti­tutes in the wake of a pos­si­ble UK gov­ern­ment crack­down on the orga­ni­za­tions. Accord­ing to a report in The Nation­al, Alex Salmond has called for an end to the “Cold War men­tal­i­ty” toward China:

Novem­ber 2, 2022 Alex Salmond has called for an end to the “Cold War men­tal­i­ty” towards Chi­na after it was announced the Gov­ern­ment may crack down on Con­fu­cius Insti­tutes over fears they threat­en “civ­il lib­er­ties” in the UK. The Alba leader defend­ed Con­fu­cius Insti­tutes, claim­ing they were cul­tur­al exchanges, though the UK secu­ri­ty agen­cies, the Gov­ern­ment and expert observers believe they are used to con­trol the behav­iour, opin­ions and lives of Chi­nese stu­dents liv­ing in the UK. It comes after secu­ri­ty min­is­ter Tom Tugend­hat told MPs on Tues­day the organ­i­sa­tions “pose a threat to civ­il lib­er­ties in many uni­ver­si­ties in the Unit­ed King­dom”.  In 2021, we revealed how one for­mer Chi­nese diplo­mat claimed the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty was con­trol­ling stu­dents with stu­dent asso­ci­a­tions. Con­fu­cius Insti­tutes claim they exist to pro­mote “under­stand­ing of con­tem­po­rary Chi­na”. The for­mer first min­is­ter has accused oppo­nents of the insti­tutes of risk­ing mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion with Chi­na. He said: “The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment should defend these valu­able cul­tur­al exchanges and oppose any attempts by the UK Gov­ern­ment to close them down. “We have noth­ing to fear from talk­ing and exchang­ing cul­ture. The real dan­ger is from those who wish to divide the world into armed camps and who wish to shut Scot­land out from the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty.” There are Con­fu­cius Insti­tutes in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Glas­gow, Heri­ot Watt Uni­ver­si­ty, Uni­ver­si­ty of Aberdeen, Uni­ver­si­ty of Strath­clyde and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Edin­burgh. Salmond, who sev­ered his links with Vladimir Putin’s regime ear­li­er this year fol­low­ing the inva­sion of Ukraine, is among a small num­ber of peo­ple in UK pol­i­tics call­ing for a close rela­tion­ship with China.

Read the rest here.

Scot­land report­ed­ly has the great­est num­ber of Con­fu­cius Insti­tutes per capi­ta in the world.

Con­fu­cius Insti­tutes are pub­lic edu­ca­tion­al part­ner­ships between col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties in Chi­na and col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties in oth­er coun­tries. In 2019, Inside High­er Ed described Con­fu­cian Insti­tutes as follows:

The Con­fu­cius Insti­tutes have long been con­tro­ver­sial. The cen­ters vary some­what across dif­fer­ent cam­pus­es, but they typ­i­cal­ly offer some com­bi­na­tion of Man­darin lan­guage class­es, cul­tur­al pro­gram­ming and out­reach to K‑12 schools and the com­mu­ni­ty more broad­ly. They are staffed in part with vis­it­ing teach­ers from Chi­na and fund­ed by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, with match­ing resources pro­vid­ed by the host insti­tu­tion. The num­ber of U.S. uni­ver­si­ties host­ing the insti­tutes increased rapid­ly after the first was estab­lished at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land Col­lege Park in 2004, grow­ing to more than 90 at the peak.

Fin­land closed its Con­fu­cius Insti­tute in June, Bel­gium in 2019, Swe­den and Den­mark in 2020, and Nor­way in 2021.


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