Campus Reform | Yet another university shuts down Chinese Communist Party-funded Confucius Institute

Yet another university shuts down Chinese Communist Party-funded Confucius Institute

“The Confucius institute is an arm of the Chinese government's propaganda machine,” one student says.

UC-Davis leaves open the possibility of “new pathways” to working with China after announcing it will permanently close its campus Confucius Institute.

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The University of California-Davis announced Tuesday plans to close the Confucius Institute on campus.

The institute, which opened in 2013, is set to close effective August 15. The closure comes as U.S. officials debate the proper course of action in holding China accountable after they say the communist regime withheld vital information regarding the coronavirus that could have saved thousands of American lives. U.S. intelligence agencies had previously labeled Confucius Institutes a national security threat, acting as propaganda arms of the Chinese Communist Party.

UC-Davis offered no for-credit courses through the institute, except for a one-credit internship on Chinese culture. 

[RELATED: University changes tone, shutters Chinese Communist Party-funded Confucius Institute]

According to the university, Chancellor Gary S. May wrote a letter on April 28 to the Hanban division of China’s Ministry of Education on April 28, leaving open the possibility of new programs. 

“The time has come for us to consider new pathways by building on cultural exchange programs like those our Confucius Institute has fostered,” he wrote.

“The Hanban division of China’s Ministry of Education announced at the annual meeting of the Confucius Institutes in December that there would be a renewed focus on language instruction,” UC-Davis News and Media Relations Specialist Julia Ann Easley told Campus Reform. “The focus of the Confucius Institute at UC Davis has been Chinese food and beverage culture. It has not offered language instruction. Because of this, UC Davis is going to explore other ways of working with international universities." 

[RELATED: University changes tone, shutters Chinese Communist Party-funded Confucius Institute]

“UC Davis has had a long and extensive relationship with China,” Easley added. “We have many agreements of cooperation in both education and research with Chinese institutions. We host more than 5,000 international students and scholars from China every year, and we have five alumni networks in China. Our faculty members also collaborate with colleagues in China on academic publications.”

When asked about the closure, UC-Davis student Michael Gofman told Campus Reform it was “absolutely a benefit.” 

“The Confucius Institute is an arm of the Chinese government's propaganda machine,” said Gofman. “The fact that it does dumpling workshops and language training does not change that. While they provide values and benefits and a cultural home for many students, especially international students, these can be achieved in another way.”

[RELATED: Hawley calls out campuses getting 'cozy' with China]

“The cultural exchange between two countries is fine and good,” Gofman continued. “It allows our country and our academia to grow. It allows students to be exposed to new things. It allows their students to be exposed to the great American values of freedom, democracy, and capitalism. The people that come here from China to study in our schools are generally from the upper class of China. These are going to be the people that are going to be the makers and shakers of the next generation. It'll be good if they're exposed to American values.”

When the Confucius Institute at UC Davis opened in 2013, then-Chancellor Linda Katehi said she hoped the partnership with China’s government would lead to “experiences to prepare our students for global citizenship, enrich the diversity of our community and share our leading scholarship in collaborations around the world.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter:@arik_schneider