China Criticizes US Decision on Confucius Institutes

Posted May 25th, 2012 at 3:50 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Chinese state media are criticizing a recent decision by the U.S. State Department to tighten visa requirements at Chinese Confucius Institutes in the United States.

The State Department last week issued a directive saying it was “reviewing the academic viability” of the Chinese government-backed institutions, which promote Chinese language and culture overseas.

The statement said the institutes would need to apply for U.S. academic accreditation. It also said many of the teachers at the institutes were violating the terms of their visas and would need to return home at the end of their terms to reapply for proper accreditation.

Several editorials Friday in Chinese state press spoke out against the move. The China Daily called the decision “self-defeating” and “strange,” saying it is the result of a “lingering Cold War mentality.” The Global Times suggested the move shows the U.S. is “culturally weak” and is afraid of Chinese influence.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland on Thursday downplayed the incident. She said the issue was not about the institutes themselves and that the U.S. supports people-to-people exchange with China.

Nuland said the dispute is simply about whether professors at the institutes had the correct visa status and said that “nobody's going to have to leave the country” over the issue.

There are nearly 700 Confucius Institutes located around the world. Nearly 70 are in the United States.