Sunak honours pledge, choosing not to shut down Confucius Institute supported by the Chinese government.
When Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ran for the leadership of the Conservative Party, he pledged to close the Confucius Institutes in British colleges. However, the British government changed its mind and decided not to insist on completing all of these Chinese government-funded institutes. The closure of 30 Confucius Institutes founded by British colleges may be considered “somewhat excessive,” a British government spokeswoman stated on May 17. The Chinese government developed the Confucius Institute as a mechanism for teaching Chinese and disseminating Chinese culture in a number of different nations throughout the world. They promote CCP policies, take funds from the Chinese government, and, as many detractors claim, even participate in actions that conflict with Western ideals.
Sunak made it plain during his first run for the Conservative Party’s leadership in July 2022 that if elected, he would shut down all Confucius Institutes because the Chinese government uses them to project soft power.
A British government spokeswoman was reported as saying, “We are aware of concerns about foreign interference in our higher education sector, including through the Confucius Institute,” by Politico, an American news outlet noted for covering political news. Although it is currently thought that closing the Confucius Institutes in the UK would be overkill, steps are being taken to remove government financing.
The first media outlet to break the story was British Talk TV (Talk TV).
The UK government statement continued, “Like all foreign organizations working in the UK, the Confucius Institute operates honestly and legally, with full respect for our values of openness and freedom of expression.
According to a number of media reports, several Conservative MPs and hawks who support being tough on China are upset over the Sunak government’s pushback regarding whether to close the Confucius Institute. Liz Truss, a former British prime minister who is currently in Taiwan, demanded the “immediate” shutdown of Confucius Institutes at British universities.
British prime minister called China
“Last summer, the current British prime minister called China “the greatest long-term threat to the UK” and advocated for the closure of Confucius Institutes. Truss declared in a lecture in Taiwan that “He was right that we need to see these reforms enacted promptly.
The British Daily Telegraph reported that although the Confucius Institutes established in British universities claim to offer courses in Chinese culture and language to international students, detractors charge that they are actually the Chinese Communist Party’s “white gloves” used to stifle and defuse criticism of China.
The Confucius Institute personnel were ordered to “enforce state-imposed discipline” on Chinese students who were studying in the UK, according to information released earlier this year by the UK-China Transparency charity, The Daily Telegraph noted. The Henry Jackson Institute, a different think tank that advocates for democracy, revealed in a report from the previous year that it had proof that Chinese officials scrutinized the political opinions and racial backgrounds of workers at Confucius Institutes in the UK.
Sunak’s back-and-forth on the subject of Confucius Institutes is also a glaring departure from certain other nations’ customs.
For fear that they will be used as a front for Chinese espionage activities, Sweden and other nations have outright banned Confucius Institutes, and the US government has announced that if any institution of higher learning establishes a Confucius Institute, it will not be eligible for funding or government approval. Money will be scarce.
“Some say they don’t want another Cold War,” added Truss, who is in Taiwan. “China has started a campaign of self-reliance, whether we want to decouple from their economy or not,” said the author.
According to the Daily Telegraph
The Confucius Institute in the UK has been defended in the past, according to the Daily Telegraph, with the Chinese embassy in the UK stressing that “China-UK educational exchanges” should be viewed with “objective rationality” and that the “huge public interest in learning about Chinese language and culture” should be “respected and recognized.”