Tufts becomes latest US University to sever ties with Confucius Institute
DHARAMSALA, 19 March: Tufts University(TU), a “premier university “ in the US has severed its ties with China’s controversial Confucius Institute(CI) amidst growing scrutiny over the latter across the world.
Tufts University announced the closure of the Confucius Institute at Tufts University (CITU), a program within the School of Arts and Sciences after six years on Wednesday.
“Our relationship with the CITU will conclude when our current agreement expires in September,” read a statement issued by the TU on its website.
A coalition of activist groups, Students for a Free Tibet (SFT), the Boston Uyghur Association, and Hong Kong Social Action Movements Boston who have long campaigned and protested demanding the closure of the CI at the Tufts called it a “victory for all Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hongkongers, Taiwanese, and Chinese activists and students, as well as our allies living in the Somerville and Medford area.”
Activists and supporters of Students for a Free Tibet, East Turkestan and Hong Kong, who have long protested against such Chinese institutes and called them “extensions of the Chinese government,” stifling “academic freedom and free speech.”
“We refused to accept that the Chinese government — the very regime that has driven us from our homelands — had a home at Tufts and a presence in our own backyard. We know our actions helped President Monaco and Tufts University realize, finally, that a partnership with a government committing genocide does not align with the values of Tufts students nor the surrounding community,” Tenzin Yangzom from SFT was quoted as saying in media reports.
CI which are funded by Beijing and operated by the Office of Chinese Languages Council International, also known as Hanban, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China has come under increasing international scrutiny of late. A central part of China’s soft power plan, it aims to improve the global view of China’s authoritarian system.
The rights groups and activists, as well as governments and parliaments across the world, have of late called out CI for censoring and silencing discussions on important political and human rights issues like Tibet, East Turkestan, Taiwan, Falun Gong and Tiananmen Square.
Additionally, the US National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 prohibits the use of defence funding for language programs at colleges or universities that also host Confucius Institutes, except in cases where Defense Department waivers are granted.
The FBI has also described the CI as a source of concern while declaring China as the most severe counterintelligence threat to the US.