Opinion / Editorials

Confucius teaches culture

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-25 07:10

The great Chinese sage Confucius might have pardoned the American Association of University Professors for their criticism of Confucius Institutes, as it probably stemmed from either fear or ignorance of other cultures, perhaps both.

In a recent statement, the AAUP called on universities to cease their cooperation with the institutes, saying the institutes are "ignoring" academic freedom.

It claimed that Confucius Institutes function as an arm of the Chinese state and are pushing political agendas since they are sponsored by Hanban, which is the State office dealing with Chinese culture run by the Chinese government and the Communist Party of China.

Such claims expose their own intolerance of different cultures and biased preconceptions, as well as their desire to smear and isolate the CPC, said a Xinhua News Agency commentary.

The shaping of traditional Chinese culture over thousands of years has no direct links with communism, nor its ideology, and those seeking to prevent Confucius Institutes being disseminators of Chinese culture are trying to restrain the communication between different cultures.

Since the first Confucius Institute was set up in South Korea a decade ago, 440 Confucius Institutes and 646 Confucius Classrooms have opened in 120 countries and regions. More than 70 top 200 universities in the world have their own Confucius Institutes.

How could such rapid expansion be possible if Confucius Institutes are merely propaganda outlets that threaten academic freedom?

After all, they are dedicated to the education and promotion of the Chinese language and culture - not unlike the British Councils of the United Kingdom, the Goethe-Instituts of Germany and the French institutes of the Alliance Francaise.

For the information of those accusing the Confucius Institutes of "having control of hiring staff, choosing the curriculum and restricting teaching materials", the management committees of these institutes consist of both Chinese and foreign experts and scholars, including many Western professors and university presidents, who have their say in decision-making.

With China's rapid economic development, its language and culture have become increasingly attractive to people around the world. Both Chinese people and foreigners should have confidence in this culture, a unique contribution from this populous country to world peace.

If Confucius were alive today, he might respond with his own saying: To feel no discomposure by those who don't know me, isn't that what is expected of a gentleman?


(China Daily 06/25/2014 page8)

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