German university to close Confucius Institutes by the end of 2020

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, July 30: The University of Hamburg in Germany is reportedly cutting ties with the Confucius Institute (CI) by the end of this year. A German daily newspaper Die Welt cited risks involving “political influence and information leak” for the move. 

Another university in Germany, Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf also ended its ties with Hanban or Confucius Institute Headquarters in 2016 over concerns over CCP’s political influence. German universities have joined the US and other European universities in criticizing the role of China’s CI which allegedly function as a propaganda arms for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

The Free Democratic Party (FDP) has proposed a bill to control these Beijing sponsored language centres to safeguard academic freedom in Germany. The report also suggests that University in Bonn is also assessing its cooperation and continued operations with the school’s CI. However, Germany’s Goethe University Frankfurt has dismissed such allegations that such CI facilities propagate CCP’s agenda. 

American and European universities in Belgium and Sweden have strongly rejected CIs over allegations of propaganda and espionage. Sweden closed its last CI in April this year as it became the first European nation to close all Chinese state-sponsored programs which were first established to promote Chinese language and strengthen cultural exchange between the two nations. 

The Chinese Ministry of Education (MOE) issued a directive circulating online earlier this month that suggested that the institute will be rebranded as the “MOE Centre for Language Exchange and Cooperation” in a move to curb growing global backlash. 

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