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Canada’s Association of University Teachers calls on Universities to Close Confucius Institutes

Sonia Zhao

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is calling on universities and colleges to cut their ties with Confucius Institutes, which it says are “subsidized and supervised by the authoritarian government of China.”

CAUT, which represents close to 70,000 academic professionals in Canada, passed a resolution in December asking Canadian universities and colleges with Confucius Institutes (CIs) to shut down the institute on their campuses, and those in negotiations to get an institute to cease doing so.

“Confucius Institutes are essentially political arms of the Chinese government,” CAUT executive director James Turk said in a statement.

“They restrict the free discussion of topics Chinese authorities deem controversial and should have no place on our campuses.”

The CIs, funded by the Chinese communist regime with hundreds of branches worldwide, are branded as promoting Chinese language and culture. They are overseen by China’s Office of Chinese Language Council International, or Hanban, and have been cited by intelligence agencies as organizations used by the regime to extend its “soft power.”

The now-former head of Canada’s intelligence agency CSIS has said that CIs are under the control of Chinese embassies and consulates and has linked them with some of the regime’s other efforts to influence Canada’s China policy.

Turk said the University of Manitoba rejected having a Confucius Institute because of concerns over political censorship (the university’s official response cited “logistics issues”), and that McMaster University closed its institute after a human rights complaint by an instructor who alleged CI hiring practices discriminate against Falun Gong adherents.

Currently, Canadian institutions that host CIs include the University of Regina, University of Waterloo, Brock University, University of Saskatchewan, British Columbia Institute of Technology, University of Sherbrooke/Dawson College, Seneca College, St. Mary’s University, Carleton University, Toronto District School Board, Edmonton Public School Board, New Brunswick Department of Education, and the Coquitlam School District.

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