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203 views • August 25, 2022

Confucius Institutes in Canada in Decline

NTD News
NTD News
NTD received a question from a viewer, asking whether there are Confucius Institutes operating in Canada. Beijing touts the state-funded Confucius Institutes as language and culture exchange programs. They partner with schools and universities overseas but have been accused of trying to expand the Chinese Communist Party's ideology and influence. According to NTD's own investigation, right now at least nine Confucius Institutes are operating in Canada. One inside the country's Brock University closed in 2020. Another in British Columbia's Institute of Technology closed in 2019. Earlier, the Toronto District School Board voted to end its Confucius Institutes partnership in 2024. New Brunswick intends to phase its Confucius Institutes partnership out by 2022, when its current contract expires. Some of those still running have partnered with local public school boards—including the Edmonton and Coquitlam School Districts in British Columbia. The rest operate in universities or colleges, like the University of Waterloo, Carleton University in Ottawa, and Seneca College in Toronto. Another in Saint Mary's University in Nova Scotia recently rebranded. It's now called the Confucius China Studies Program. Most agreements between Confucius Institutes and their educational partners ignore academic freedom—with the institutions asking schools to abide by Chinese laws and Beijing's teaching framework. The number of new Confucius Institutes opening in Canada saw a surge between 2007 and 2012. They began to decline later, amid fears about academic freedom violations and potential Chinese espionage activities. Those concerns prompted pushback from Confucius Institute partners. Fears about academic freedom, espionage, and indoctrination are leading to pushback from educational institutions and provincial education departments No new Confucius Institutes have opened in Canada since 2012. A former Confucius Institute teacher, Sonia Zhao, disclosed that she was trained to repeat Beijing's narratives if students ask about topics China deems sensitive—like Tibet. She was also asked to sign a contract that excluded Falun Gong practitioners from applying. Her story was later featured in a documentary called "In the Name of Confucius," a 2017 film based on three years of investigation into Confucius Institutes in North America, primarily in Ontario.
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