Photoes of Confucius Institues in US. Source: Agencies
According to a new US State Department directive last week, Confucius Institutes in the US must obtain American accreditation. The directive also says that some academics at these institutes who are holding J-1 visas will not get their visas extended, which means they will have to leave the US. If the directive comes into force, Confucius Institutes and Schools in the US will face a lot of trouble. The US obviously wants this.
Confucius Institutes have expanded their global presence in recent years. There are now 691 Confucius Institutes and Schools, 69 of which are in the US. Their rapid development can be partly attributed to China's active promotion, but the decisive factor is the great demand for learning Chinese.
After Spanish, which was brought by Latino immigrants, Chinese has become the first foreign language taught in the US. The arrival of Confucius Institutes and Americans' eagerness to learn Chinese are a perfect match. The Confucius Institutes in the US are established in accordance with the requirements of American universities and colleges. The Chinese-teaching volunteers are actually invited by US academies.
US academies will bear the loss if Chinese teachers and volunteers leave the US. What China loses is a chance to promote its culture. Compared with the US' need for Chinese-training talents to better communicate with China, China's demand is not so urgent.
The issue shows that the US' cultural confidence is not as strong as we thought. The promotion of Chinese language and culture by Confucius Institutes makes some Americans uneasy. Only culturally weak countries have such sensitivity.
Chinese language is difficult to learn. Confucius Institutes set up a model where China and foreign countries cooperate to teach Chinese, which has sped up the promotion of Chinese teaching worldwide.
Some countries can resist Confucius Institutes, but they can't hold back people's interests to learn Chinese as long as China stays on its track of development. Confucius Institutes can hold a cooperative attitude, but do not need to beg any governments.
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was discussing the matter with the US. Presidents from many universities in the US have publicly objected to the government's decision. China doesn't need to feel as anxious as the US. Confucius Institutes should continue to develop globally. They have become the major promoter of Chinese culture. They can slow their pace of development in countries that make trouble for them.
When a country's economy develops, it will care about respect from other countries. The Chinese are clear that the establishment of a country's soft power is difficult.
The development of Confucius Institutes shows a mixed relationship between China and other countries during China's rise. Their evaluation is bound to be varied, but the most objective one is the demand of them in the world.
Confucius ban ‘harms ties’
A directive released by the US Department of State targeting Chinese Confucius Institutes may have political motives, which is not beneficial for cultural exchanges between the two sides, analysts said Thursday.
The announcement, dated May 17, said any further activity of the Confucius program by academics teaching at the primary and secondary levels is strictly prohibited, and the teachers have to leave the country in June when the academic year concludes with no extensions to be granted.
Global Times Feature
US directive confuses Confucius Institues