University College Dublin has reaffirmed its relations with the Chinese Government following a restructuring of the previously controversial Confucius Centre. The Centre was once described as a “foreign mission” to spread teachings that amount to “Chinese Communist Party propaganda”.
In July 2020, it was announced that the scheme that established the Confucius Centre in UCD was going to be reorganized and a new parent organisation called the Chinese International Education Foundation would be created. The Centre’s website noted that this parent organisation is “a non-governmental charity organisation initiated and established by a number of universities, enterprises, etc, and will continue to support the development of Confucius Institutes worldwide”.
This move was said to allow for an easier way to teach the Chinese Language overseas and to prevent misrepresentation in the West. The Times has noted that this reform has affected UCD’s legal relationship with the Confucius Institute and did require formal approval by the Governing Authority. The UCD Legal Unit, upon review of the applicable agreements, agreed to change from the headquarters to the foundation.
Despite the reorganisation being the omphalos of concerns regarding the facilitation of the spread of Chinese Communist Party “propaganda”, Professor Zhang Yiwu, Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Peking University, has stated that these new changes were to “help disperse misinterpretation of the network” which was “merely” for language teaching and cultural exchanges. In the UK, Confucius Institute Officials have seized papers that mention Taiwan at a conference.
UCD Professors have previously raised concerns regarding the relationship and the influence that the Chinese state-backed organisation has on the University. The Institute housed in UCD has been plagued with controversy as it was the first to receive direct funding from the Chinese Communist Party.
Casey Conway – Assistant News Editor