Closure is part of a growing trend from institutions in North America and other parts of the world cutting ties with the Beijing-led program
A college affiliated with the University of Waterloo confirms its contract with China’s Confucius Institute (CI) ended last year—joining the ranks of other institutions in North America and around the world that are cutting ties with the Beijing-led program.
A spokesperson for Renison University College said in an emailed statement on Nov. 18 that there has been no activity between his institution and CI “since before the beginning of the pandemic.”
“Renison’s Agreement with the CI, represented by Shanghai Studies International University [SSIU], expired in October 2021, and is not being renewed,” Cort Egan told The Epoch Times.
The college, which specializes in language and culture studies, said the work it had done with CI centred around adult and community education, and “not our degree programming.”
“It has never been a significant part of our programming. With the onset of the pandemic, any opportunities for cultural exchanges and the typical work of the CI ended,” the spokesman said. “In view of the fact that the Agreement had expired in October 2021, and it really had no impact on our operations, we see no compelling reason to renew the Agreement.”
Egan was responding to a request initially directed to the University of Waterloo (UWaterloo) to comment on the recent report by Globals News that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has said the Toronto Chinese Consulate allegedly transferred $1 million to “proxy groups” to organize protests to support the keeping of CIs in the city back in 2014.
The Epoch Times had asked UWaterloo whether it would continue to host CIs in light of the revelations.
UWaterloo did not comment but forwarded the email to Egan who confirmed that the agreement entered with SSIU was solely with the college and not with the university.
“UWaterloo has not been connected to a CI for many years,” Egan said. To date, the webpage of CI is still visible on the university’s site which the spokesman said it’s an “oversight,” and he will “see that the page is removed.”
CIs are branded as educational and cultural programs but have been cited by intelligence agencies as being a part of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) propaganda tools to exert influence abroad and control activities on campus to Beijing’s liking.
Dominic Cardy, former New Brunswick Education Minister told CBC in February 2019 that CI’s aim is to put a “friendly” face on the CCP.
“Their job is to create a friendly, cheerful face for a government that is responsible for more deaths than nearly any other in the history of our species,” Cardy said.
In an October interview with The Epoch Times, Cardy said all CIs in New Brunswick’s public schools were removed in August. The province is also looking to end all ties with its accredited schools in China that do not teach Canadian values, by 2027, due to contractual obligations.
In 2013, McMaster University closed its CI after the institute refused to remove clauses that violate human rights in its hiring practices for teachers who would end up working in Canada. A clause in CI’s hiring contract for teachers stipulates that they can’t practice Falun Dafa, a spiritual meditation practice severely persecuted by the Chinese regime.
A year later, the Toronto District School Board decided to remove CIs from the city’s schools after an outcry from the community.
The University of Sherbrooke in Quebec also decided to shut down its CI, and the University of British Columbia and the University of Manitoba have rejected China’s offers to host an institute.
According to media reports, the British Columbia Institute of Technology wound down its CI program in 2019, and Brock University announced the ending of its relationship with the institute in May 2020.
There have also been around a dozen CI closures in Europe since 2013.
‘Under A Different Name’
In the United States, of the 118 CIs that once existed in the country, 104 were closed as of June and four are in the process of shutting down, according to a report by the National Association of Scholars, a New York-based non-profit organization.
“But at least 64 colleges and universities have reopened a Confucius Institute-like program under a different name or maintained close relationships with the Chinese entities that cosponsored Confucius Institutes,” said the association in a press release on June 21.
On July 5, 2020, the CCP-owned tabloid Global Times reported that CIs’ operations worldwide would be coordinated by the Center for Language Education and Cooperation instead of its predecessor Hanban.
Schools in Canada that continue to host CIs are the Coquitlam School District in B.C., Edmonton Public Schools, University of Regina, University of Saskatchewan, Seneca College in Toronto, Carleton University in Ottawa, Dawson College in Montreal, and Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.
Omid Ghoreishi contributed to this report.