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Slovakian Confucius Institute Director Threatens China Expert After Study Reveals Chinese Presence At Slovak Universities

May 7th, 2021 12:34

Euro­pean media is report­ing that the direc­tor of the Con­fu­cius Insti­tute in Bratisla­va tried to intim­i­date a local Chi­na expert short­ly after he pub­lished a sur­vey expos­ing the Chi­nese pres­ence at Slo­vak uni­ver­si­ties. Accord­ing to a Eurac­tiv report:

April 27, 2021 The Slo­vak direc­tor of the Chi­nese Con­fu­cius Insti­tute in Bratisla­va, Ľuboslav Što­ra, sent threat­en­ing mail to Matej Šimalčík, one of the key experts on Chi­na in CEE coun­tries and the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Cen­tral Euro­pean Insti­tute of Asian Stud­ies (CEIAS). It reads: “Are you sleep­ing well? You should be under a lot of stress when you’re walk­ing down the street…”

The direc­tor, the for­mer head of the Slo­vak branch of ZTE, sent the threat short­ly after a CEIAS sur­vey expos­ing the Chi­nese pres­ence at Slo­vak uni­ver­si­ties had been pub­lished. There are three Con­fu­cius Insti­tutes in Slo­va­kia, the one in Bratisla­va was found­ed upon the agree­ment with the Slo­vak Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy (STU), and also has the largest num­ber of projects and coop­er­a­tion with Chi­na and Chi­nese com­pa­nies.  Šimalčík told EURACTIV Slo­va­kia that although such threat­en­ing mail did not scare him, he was sur­prised that it had been sent direct­ly by the direc­tor of the Con­fu­cius Insti­tute in Bratisla­va himself.

Read the rest here.

The report goes on to describe Štora’s “prize-win­ning­ly lame apol­o­gy”, claim­ing he had been delib­er­ate­ly absurd to high­light the absur­di­ty of Šimalčík’s views. The report also notes that the sur­vey that prompt­ed the reac­tion by the Chi­nese Con­fu­cius leader found that 23 pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties and the Slo­vak Acad­e­my of Sci­ence main­tain up to 113 for­mal and infor­mal links with Chi­nese uni­ver­si­ties and oth­er Chi­nese entities.

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.

In March, we report­ed that a Dutch Pro­fes­sor of Chi­nese lan­guage and cul­ture, whose salary was par­tial­ly paid by a Dutch Con­fu­cius Insti­tute, had been con­trac­tu­al­ly pro­hib­it­ed from “dam­ag­ing the image of China.”