Washington DC [US], March 19 (ANI): China has quietly changed the name of Confucius Institutes Headquarters to the Center for Language Education and Cooperation in an attempt to alter the perception that the organisation serves as China's ideological marketing machine, according to a report in Fox News.
The move comes after the US Senate approved a bill last week to tighten controls on China-funded Confucius Institutes, which are China-funded cultural centers that operate on university campuses in the USA.
Confucius Institutes are public educational partnerships between colleges and universities in China and colleges and universities in other countries.
The headquarters also developed a non-governmental organization (NGO) called the Chinese International Education Foundation, which now controls local Confucius Institutes, National Association of Scholars (NAS) researcher Rachelle Peterson told Fox News.
"This is a situation we don't fully understand yet," Peterson said, noting that while some US schools are dropping Confucius Institutes as a PR stunt because of the institute's reputation, schools are adopting new Chinese learning programs that use the same textbooks, courses, staff and even funding from the Hanban.
According to Peterson, as of March 17, there were 51 Confucius Institutes with partnerships at US schools, including seven that are preparing to close at Stony Brook University, Portland State University, Central Connecticut State University, Colorado State University, University of New Hampshire, Tufts University and Emory University.
More than 40 US schools have terminated their partnerships since China launched the initiative in 2004, but Peterson suggests that terminating these partnerships doesn't completely solve the issue because similar programs are appearing under new names, reported Fox News.
More than 100 Confucius Institutes serving K-12 schools, for example, have rebranded as the Asia Society Chinese Language Partner Network. It works with the 65-year-old US-based Asia Society and receives funding from the Hanban, a new white paper from the America Security Institute shows.
"That sounds like a pretty straightforward name change," Peterson said, but she added that instances of other schools' decisions to drop Confucius Institutes completely are "more complicated" because they are "replacing them with other organisations that retain a lot of Confucius Institutes' program."
The Confucius Act was passed twice in the Senate during the previous administration, but the House never voted on the bill despite its bipartisan introduction by Republican Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, and former Republican Donna Shalala, D-Fla., in July 2020.
William Burns, former State Department diplomat to Russia and US President Joe Biden's nominee for director of the CIA, also recently voiced concerns with the program.
"I think what the Confucius Institutes do, and I'm no expert on them, is to promote a narrative of Xi Jinping's China, which is designed to build sympathy for what is, in my view, a quite aggressive leadership, which is engaged in conduct and conducted an adversarial approach to relations with the United States," he told the Senate Intelligence Committee in February. (ANI)