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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Be wary of China's new Confucius centres

It sounds very 'legit'... but is it just another united front for spies? I purposely didn't mention anything about spies in my letter to the editor, which wasn't published anyway / update--it was published after all / but at least I got the author thinking who replied saying that I raised some valid points.

RE: Confucius Institute offers language, cultural studies May 4 by MIRKO PETRICEVIC


Regarding Mirko Petricevic's May 4 article Cufucius Institute Offers Language, Cultural Studies, I am left a bit perplexed.

I seriously have to question why Confucius has suddenly become Communist China's new poster boy. Apparently, by 2010 there will be 500 Communist party culture schools in the world. Besides the Waterloo institute, there has been one in Vancouver since February 2005 and one more will open soon in Toronto. They are being set up in 36 countries, even in Rwanda.

One may only wonder what the Beijing elite is really up to, knowing full well that they don't cherish the Confucius teachings of virtue and free speech. Consul general Taoying Zhu said the Confucius Institute will be a tool for building friendships between China and Canada. That really has me worried.

Another major concern is this stipulation on the Hanban's websites stating: "Overseas Confucius Institutes must abide by the one-China policy." Unfortunately, Zhu's remarks are short of reassuring. How will we know if the textbooks are to be filled with anti-democracy, anti-Falun Gong material glorifying the party, complete with slogans of "Peaceful development road" and "Harmonious society"?

I don't mean to sound xenophobic but we should be on guard.

The Chinese recently announced they are going ahead with the revision of their history textbooks to reflect a flawless China, discarding historical facts harmful to the nation's image. Isn't China's genuflecting to Confucius just another tool to wield soft power abroad and spread the Communist values that are completely opposite of ours? It sure appears to be so.

Waterloo Record: Confucius Institute offers language, cultural studies


Xinxin Zhang of Waterloo performs a Chinese heritage dance at the University of Waterloo's Renison College yesterday. She was one of the performers on the program for the grand opening of the Confucius Institute.
Click here to find out more!

WATERLOO (May 4, 2007)

A wise man in China once said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Well . . . not exactly in those words.

But with the opening of a new institute in Waterloo, more local residents will be able to learn the language of Confucius, the sage who, sort of, uttered those words about 2,500 years ago.

About 60 people gathered at the University of Waterloo's Renison College yesterday for the grand opening of the Confucius Institute.

It's the second institute in Canada, among 140 worldwide, created by the Chinese government to promote the study of Chinese (Mandarin) language, culture, education and business.

The newest institute is a partnership between the University of Waterloo and Nanjing University, located near the central east coast of China.

The institute will offer non-credit courses in Chinese language, painting, calligraphy, medicine and martial arts.

The slate of university credit courses includes Chinese literature, culture, history, philosophy, religion and translation.

This week the institute started tai chi classes. Several Mandarin language courses will start next week.

A visiting professor from Nanjing University will arrive for the fall term. It's not certain which courses will be offered yet, but probably Chinese literature and film.

Renison College has provided Asian language classes, English as a second language programs for immigrants and an East Asian studies program for at least a decade.

Renison is providing the Confucius Institute with office and classroom space in its new $4.8-million addition.

Also, one of Renison's Chinese-language instructors will be executive director of the Confucius Institute, said John Crossley, Renison's principal and director of the Confucius Institute.

Renison hopes to receive about $100,000 this year to help the institute's programs get started, he said.

Afterward, the programs are expected to be funded by student fees, Crossley said.

Taoying Zhu, the Toronto-based consul general responsible for education in Ontario and Manitoba, was among dignitaries at yesterday's opening.

Zhu praised Confucius for promoting harmony and said the Confucius Institute will be a tool for building friendships between China and Canada.

But the relationship has been less than harmonious this week.

On Monday, federal Foreign Minister Peter MacKay spoke to his counterpart in Beijing about Huseyin Celil, a Canadian citizen recently sentenced to life in prison in China.

Chinese authorities accused Celil, also a citizen of China, of separatist activities and of organizing, leading and participating in terrorist groups.

Crossley, Renison's principal, said the college's East Asian studies program offers courses in politics which will maintain the academic freedom that's typical of North American post-secondary schools.

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