The British government is working on a ban on the Communist China-sponsored Confucius Institutes, according to officials who spoke with UK media outlets.
Plans to ban the Chinese language and cultural study centers, controversial because of their political allegiance to Beijing, are being “rapidly drawn up by officials to honor Rishi Sunak’s election campaign pledge,” as reported on Oct. 25 by The Telegraph.
Despite previous dovishness on China, the former finance minister in July promised to face down Beijing as “our number one threat” while competing against Liz Truss, who eventually won out to become Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister.
One of the steps Sunak said he would take would be to “close all 30 of China’s Confucius Institutes in the UK,” which channel “almost all UK government spending on Mandarin language teaching” and promote “Chinese soft power.”
While Confucius Institutes are advertised as vehicles to facilitate international language and cultural exchanges, their staff must be approved by the communist Chinese authorities. These staff is barred from being associated with groups the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) deems sensitive and are taught to avoid discussion or content related to such topics.
Sunak has also said he would form a “NATO-style international alliance” to “tackle Chinese cyber-threats and share best practices in technology security,” while protecting British assets and industrial secrets from Chinese spies.
Some netizens reacting to Sunak’s announcements on Twitter questioned whether he would follow through, pointed out his ties to the World Economic Forum, or encouraged him to draw a distinction between “China” and the CCP rather than referring to the party and the state together Beijing itself does.
“Conflating these two things creates the conditions for Chinese people to be blamed for the actions of their government. Weren’t you the guy who was asking for more nuance last year when you were talking up trade opportunities with the PRC?” replied Luke de Pulford, a co-founder of the anti-slavery NGO Arise.
No. Not “China and the CCP”. Conflating these two things creates the conditions for Chinese people being blamed for the actions of their government. Weren’t you the guy who was asking for more nuance last year when you were talking up trade opportunities with the PRC?