by Abigail Streetman
Confucius Institutes across the country are closing, the most recent being at Michigan State University, the University of South Carolina, and Colorado State University.
MSU began its Confucius Institute in 2006 and USC followed in 2008, according to The State newspaper. Both schools will discontinue their programs by the end of 2021. Colorado State University also recently announced that its Confucius Institute will close by the end of June.
While national intelligence officials, including President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the CIA, have warned that Confucius Institutes serve as a propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party, these schools are not closing their institutes for this reason. Rather, each of the three schools cited former President Donald Trump moving to restrict the amount of funding for universities with Confucius Institutes.
As reported by The State, USC’s program had fewer than 100 students enrolled in classes. USC ended the institute in a vote by the Board of Trustees on February 19.
MSU’s announcement states that it is “proud of [its] long-standing connection with China and remain committed to continued meaningful engagement in the region through active partnerships with institutions and universities.”
The school wrote that this decision stems from “uncertainty of support at the federal level” and that it will be continuing many of the programs taught at the institute in different departments of the university.
Dan Olsen, the Deputy Spokesperson for MSU, wrote in an email to Campus Reform that it is “still working to determine how other projects may continue and which offices or departments will oversee them.”
“The decision to close the institute is part of a broader vision at MSU for international work that we believe is most effective and more sustainable when it is developed and carried out through direct partnerships with institutions and universities, not only in China, but in many parts of the world,” Olsen said.
One of the main goals of the Institute as stated by MSU was to “meet the ever-increasing demand for Chinese education in the U.S.; promote Chinese culture and language worldwide.”
Similarly, CSU announced, “the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, passed with bipartisan congressional support, includes language that restricts access to Department of Defense research funding at universities that host a Confucius Institute…The Confucius Institute has instructed hundreds of local students through its language programs and engaged with thousands of community members through annual cultural events, enriching the lives of many and serving as a bridge between people in the United States and China.”
CSU is a recognized national leader in comprehensive internationalization and remains committed to advancing global engagement through its teaching and research programs, both on campus and abroad.
As Campus Reform previously reported, the University of California-Davis shut down its Confucius Institute in May.
The U.S. State Department then designated the Confucius Institute U.S. Center as a “foreign mission of the People’s Republic of China” in August 2020.
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Abigail Streetman is a Florida Campus Correspondent with Campus Reform. She is a second-year student at the University of Florida, majoring in Biology and minoring in Innovation. Abigail is the UF Turning Point USA secretary, Gainesville Activism Hub president, and a member of College Republicans, Network of Enlightened Women, and Young Americans for Liberty.