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2015-2016

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    Confucius Institutes in the United States by Glasgow, Martina Tiara

    Based on a model set forth by other International Cultural Institutes (ICIs) Confucius Institutes are a part of a governmentally-funded project with the aim of increasing awareness and appreciation of Chinese language and culture across the globe. In comparison to other ICIs, however, Confucius Institutes are distinct in three ways: (1) unlike other ICIs, Confucius Institutes are hosted on the campuses of pre-established universities in foreign countries. (2) Prior establishing a Confucius Institute, the host institution must partner with a Chinese university willing to provide additional support and resources as needed. (3) Confucius Institutes are partially funded by, and operate directly under the control of Hanban: a “public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education”. Hanban’s affiliation with the Ministry of Education means that CIs are ultimately under the control of China’s primary governing body, the Communist Party of China (CPC). The placement of CIs on the campuses of American universities as well as their connection to the CPC has caused many scholars to become wary of, and even outright denounce, the motives behind the Confucius Institute project. Among the many criticisms of CIs, many scholars have argued that, unlike other International Cultural Institutes, Confucius Institutes represent China’s attempt to regain a dominant position in the international, political and educational spheres. In other words, CIs are seen as no more than a ploy for the Chinese government to increase its soft power abroad by spreading cultural and political propaganda. Scholars have also claimed that CIs limit the academic freedoms of their host institutions by not allowing for open discussions of “topics sensitive to the Chinese government”. It is the goal of this research to explore these claims fully and ultimately discern if Confucius Institutes have rightfully earned the negative reputation they have gained over the past decade.