More attention for Confucius Institutes

There’s a growing cost in critical scrutiny

Whatever universities accept as the price of Chinese Government funding for Confucius Centres (Nine newspapers yesterday), control of degrees isn’t in it.

But this does not necessarily make the CI’s some harmless equivalent of the British Council. Unless it does.

Yes, CI budgets are approved in Beijing, yes, the PRC wants to see benefits from research CIs fund. Such things alarm the American Association of University Professors which has warned, (CMM June 25 2014), “allowing any third-party control of academic matters is inconsistent with principles of academic freedom, shared governance, and the institutional autonomy of colleges and universities.”

Then again, Jeffrey Gill from Flinders U  argued in a 2017 book that CIs, “cultural and linguistic benefits … outweigh concerns they pose a risk to political and academic freedom in western countries.” (CMM May 18 2017).

But high profile PRC interest in Australia certainly means there will be more attention for CIs – which means universities with CIs will be asked how they work.

This might be unsettling for some. In 2014 CMM wrote to universities with CIs asking whether there was any intervention from the Chinese Government, none contacted replied.


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