Tuesday, February 26, 2013

GWU to launch Confucius Institute

GW brags: The George Washington University will soon be home to the GW Confucius Institute, an entity that will promote the study of Chinese language and culture, support Chinese teaching through instructional training and certification, and encourage increased research in the area of China studies.
Speaking to an audience of police, military and intelligence personnel at the Royal Canadian Military Institute in March, Fadden said the institutes are controlled by Chinese embassies and consulates. He lumped them together with some of Bejing’s other efforts to steer Canadian China policy.

Evidence was on display during Hu's visit to Canada in June when a crowd of hundreds gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to both welcome Hu and shout down protesters concerned with human-rights abuses in China. In the crowd were a group wearing T-shirts with labels identifying them as being from Montreal's Confucius Institute, which is hosted at Dawson College (source).
Named for the famed Chinese philosopher (551-479 B.C.), the institute will be one of 360 worldwide and the first in Washington, D.C. The institute will launch in fall 2013 in a renovated facility located on the Foggy Bottom Campus.
As stated in the 2011 Annual Report issued by the Confucian Institute headquarters, there are 112 CIs and 324 Confucius Classrooms in North and South America, including 81 institutes and 299 classrooms in the United States.(source
“GW is excited to offer this extensive global learning opportunity with our partners in China,” said Peg Barratt, dean of GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, where the institute will be housed and administered. “Our students, faculty and the extended community—including government and business entities—will all benefit through this enhanced educational and cultural experience.”
Mr. Branner, of Columbia University, who was an associate professor at Maryland when it established its Confucius Institute, says he worries that the institutes impose Hanban's teaching methods and materials upon Chinese-language classrooms and give the Chinese government an opportunity to collect information on American students of Chinese descent, some of whom will go into politically sensitive work. Other experts on China and Chinese language instruction have expressed concern about whether Confucius Institutes are proliferating too quickly for Hanban to ensure high-quality instruction.(source)
The Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing, China—overseen by the Office of Chinese Language Council International and affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education— is providing George Washington with start-up money, 3,000 volumes of Chinese books, teaching and audio-visual materials and access to online courses.
A petition with more than 4000 signatures tabled in the upper house of the NSW Parliament calls for the government to remove the Confucius Classroom Program from the schools where it operates: Chatswood Public, Fort Street High, Mosman High, Kensington Public, St Marys Senior High, Kingsgrove North High School and Coffs Harbour High.

The government has confirmed that controversial topics, including the Tiananmen Square massacre and China's human rights record, will not be discussed in the program, raising questions about China's influence over content.


China pays NSW schools more than $200,000 to promote its language and culture through the Confucius Institute, based at the Education Department's Ryde office.(source)
The GW Confucius Institute will host a team of faculty members and graduate students from a university in China to teach and administer the institute’s operations. GW is currently finalizing an agreement to establish this partnership with Nanjing University. The agreement is expected to be signed by spring 2013, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Chinese Embassy will be involved with the celebration planned for later this year.
In Canada last year, during riots in Tibet, the head of a Confucius Institute at the University of Waterloo succeeded in reversing the direction of coverage and getting a major Canadian television station to apologize for its previous pro-rebel coverage.(source).
Taoran Sun, director of financial management and global initiatives for Columbian College, is part of a committee that has worked since 2011 to bring a Confucius Institute to the university.

“This really ties back to the provost’s strategic plan,” she said. “Because we’re in the U.S. capital, we want to take advantage of our location and networks and D.C.’s unique global identity. It is a good opportunity for GW to play a leading role in promoting cross-cultural learning and China studies. The institute will also provide a platform for exchanges beyond language and humanities.”
The Institutes are described in official Communist Party literature in the context of Hu Jintao’s soft power initiatives, designed to influence perceptions of China and its policies abroad. Li Changchun, the 5th-highest-ranking member of thePolitburo Standing Committee, was quoted in The Economist saying the Institutes were “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up”.(source)
Once the institute is running, it plans to offer noncredit classes in intermediate- to advanced-level Chinese and culture-related topics for the large population of working professionals in the capital region. Specific course such as business Chinese may be offered on a one-on-one basis.
Peng Ming-min, a Taiwan independence activist and politician, writes although on the surface China merely demonstrates its "soft power" through CIs, "Colleges and universities where a Confucius Institute is established all have to sign a contract in which they declare their support for Beijing’s “one China” policy. As a result, both Taiwan and Tibet have become taboos at these institutes." Peng lists other examples of CI "untouchable" issues including the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, neglect of human rights, environmental pollution in China, and the imprisonment of Liu Xiaobo.(source)
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1 comment:

Guy said...

Nice post--well done.