Helsinki University Closes China-Funded Confucius Institute Over 'Soft Power' Scare

CC0 / / A Confucius Institute in Canada
A Confucius Institute in Canada - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.06.2022
The Confucius Institute is an organization designed to promote Chinese language and culture and is China's equivalent of the British Council or Germany's Goethe Institute. It is spread over some 500 campuses around the world has been accused of touting Beijing ideology. In recent years, dozens of China-sponsored centers have been closed worldwide.
Helsinki University has ended the contract with its on-campus Confucius Institute, a teaching center specializing in Chinese language and culture, which has been operating for 15 years.
According to Helsinki University's vice-rector Hanna Snellman, Beijing would have liked to continue funding the programme, but the university's council refused.
Having closed the Confucius Institute, Helsinki University will have to provide its own Chinese-language courses. According to Snellman, two teachers have already been hired for the job.

“We want to choose our own teachers and employ them ourselves. We also want Chinese language instruction to be research-based,” Snellman told national broadcaster Yle, citing a “bigger-than-before” need.

The Chinese embassy in Finland reportedly contacted the university regarding the closure, calling for the institute to be allowed to continue.
Helsinki's Confucius Institute was established in 2007. According to the agreement, Helsinki University selected the institute's director and paid their salary, whereas the Chinese government appointed the deputy director as well as the language teachers, while covering the costs.
An investigation by national broadcaster Yle claimed the role of deputy director was “unacademic” and had close ties to the Chinese embassy. Yet another Yle investigation claimed that the institute attempted to limit discussion on topics banned by the Chinese government.
Branches of the Confucius Institute are public educational and cultural promotion programmes funded and arranged by the Chinese International Education Foundation since 2004. The stated aim of the program is to promote Chinese language and culture, support local Chinese teaching internationally, and facilitate cultural exchanges.
 In this Sept. 16, 2018, file photo, American flags are displayed together with Chinese flags on top of a trishaw in Beijing. China says Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, the United States is trying to “demonize and stigmatize” bilateral its foreign relations, in a scathing attack on the Trump administration's designation of the Confucius Institute U.S. Center as a foreign mission of the Chinese Communist Party. - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.02.2021
US Has Ongoing Concerns Over China's Activities With Confucius Institutes - State Department
The institute may be compared with language and culture promotion organizations such as the UK's British Council, Germany's Goethe Institute and France's Alliance Française. The Confucius Institute is spread over some 500 campuses around the world has been described as being part of Beijing's “soft power push” - a description which the network itself vehemently denies.
In recent years, though, dozens of western universities have closed their Confucius Institute, claiming they are an arm of the Chinese government's propaganda machinery. Finland's neighbors Sweden and Denmark have also closed their Confucius Institutes.
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