Confucius Institute: Chinese Cultural Learning Center

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The Chinese government has established its Confucius Institutes (CI) all over the world. CIs are non-profit public organizations supported by the Chinese government named after its respectable philospher. CIs are operated collaboratively between the Chinese government and local universities, colleges, and secondary schools overseas. CIs are established inside of those organizations. CIs offer Chinese language learning as well as cultural exchange program to foreigners. Even though CIs are located within higher education institutes in overseas, they are funded by Chinese government. Teachers and teaching materials are also supported by the Chinese government. It is claimed that CIs are the institutes where the Chinese government tries to expand its soft power and cultural influence internationally. Established in local universities and secondary institutes, CIs give foreign public credentials that they are clearly a “education centers” that offer Chinese language and cultural learning opportunities. Xinhua news said that 316 CIs and 337 Confucius Classrooms in 94 countries and regions all over the world.  http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/culture/2010-07/13/c_13398209.htm

The Economist further reported that CIs are trying to distinguish the image of communism country to a culturally heritage country. When China’s President Hu visited the USA for four days, he visited the Confucius Institute in Chicago, the first CI established in US. He hopes that the image of China would be re-branding as a country with a valuable cultural heritage nation through CIs. http://www.economist.com/blogs/asiaview/2011/01/china’s_confucius_institutes?page=1.

CIs are also examined as a tool of propaganda to promoting “One China” policy. Taipei times said that CIs demonstrate its “soft power” on the surface. However, universities and colleges where would like to host CIs should sign a contract that will support “One China” policy. As a consequence, sensitive issues raised in Taiwan and Tibet are ignored in those institutes. http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2011/05/31/2003504575

Although there are some controversial issues surrounding CIs, China has tried to expand its cultural education outreach to foreigners overseas and they have been effective vehicles to teach Chinese language and culture.

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