More countries take action against Confucius Institutes. Will Biden do the same?
Germany, Japan, Australia, are distancing their nations from the Chinese government’s Confucius Institutes.
Meanwhile, President Biden recently nixed restrictions on the program, reversing Trump-era policy.
Though world powers are growing warier of China’s global ambitions and there have been calls to shut down Confucius Institutes around the world, the Biden administration has loosened restrictions on the centers on US college campuses.
The Confucius Institutes are Chinese educational initiatives hosted by American universities. Though they claim to be no more than language and cultural exchanges, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated the program as a “foreign mission” of the People’s Republic of China that spreads the Chinese Communist Party’s worldview.
The Japanese, Australian, and German governments are currently exploring initiatives to sever Chinese influence in higher education within their respective countries.
Biden, however, is taking a far different approach.
Campus Reform revealed in February that the Biden administration quietly revoked a Trump-era rule submitted to the federal record that would have compelled American universities to be transparent about their Confucius Institute ties.
Seth Cropsey, director of the Center for American Seapower at the Hudson Institute, told Campus Reform at the time that the policy could indicate a strategy to make the US appear indifferent to Chinese global reach.
Crospey characterized the policy as projecting "overtures...as though the United States is unaware or uninterested in [Chinese] military buildup, their aggression against neighbors, their militarization of the South China Sea, and their successful efforts to steal intellectual property.”
Recently, the Japanese government launched a probe into the initiative. Education Minister Koichi Hagiuda urged universities to participate in “information disclosure to raise transparency regarding organizational management and research projects," Nikkei Asia reports.
Meanwhile, the Australian government will consider shuttering the thirteen Confucius Institutes within its borders on a “case-by-case basis,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald. One Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said that “universities are required to notify all existing arrangements with foreign governments that fall within the scope of the scheme, including where they relate to Confucius Institutes.”
The German government unveiled a $24.8 million investment into “independent China competence” based in “European values” that would eliminate any perceived need for the Confucius Institute, according to Politico.
Follow Ben Zeisloft on Twitter