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US: Three more Confucius Institutes closed

Three more Confucius Institutes attached to US universities have been closed, as a result of The National Defense Authorization Act which prohibits the institutions from receiving federal funding for Chinese language programs if they host an CI.

The three CI's are the latest in a line to shutter since federal fund restrictions were introduced. Photo: Unsplash

FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress of "concerns" over Confucius Institutes

The University of Oregon, San Francisco State University, and Western Kentucky University have joined at least 12 other US HEIs in closing the centres, which are run by the Chinese government and have come under intense scrutiny of late.

“We would have very much preferred to retain both programs”

Although institutions applied to the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Department of Defense, for possible waivers to the law, it is understood that the department declined all waivers.

Speaking to its campus newspaper, Around the O, the University of Oregon’s vice provost of the Division of Global Engagement Dennis Galvan said the closure was a “regret”, but it “was necessary in order to protect the funding for the Chinese Flagship program,” he explained.

In the statement, the university explained how it’s internationalisation department was forced to choose between the CI and funding for the university’s National Security Education Chinese Flagship. The National Security Education Program is described as “a pipeline program to promote foreign language and cultural expertise”.

“It has helped us campus-wide to foster mutual understanding, constructive dialogue and evidence-based comprehension of China, its global emergence, its culture and its people. We would have very much preferred to retain both programs,” Galvan added.

Since the ban has been in effect, federal officials have “withheld” $343,000 from the west coast institution, which would have supported students studying or working on internships in China, Around the O reported.

In 2018 FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress of “concerns” over Confucius Institutes, and confirmed investigations had been launched.

“It is something that we’re watching warily and in certain instances have developed appropriate investigative steps,” he said at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

The University of Hawai’i at Manoa and the Arizona State University also have Institute’s on campus, but while the University of Hawai’i has not offered comment on the matter, ASU said it was “exploring options” to keep the K-12 services available to the local community.

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