University of Helsinki sever ties with China’s controversial Confucius Institute 

DHARAMSALA, 21 June: The University of Helsinki in Finland has severed its ties with China’s controversial Confucius Institute(CI).

The top University in Finland and which is among the top 50 universities in Europe has terminated an agreement with the Confucius Institute, a Chinese language and culture teaching centre on its campus last week, media reports said.

Although China wanted to continue funding the program, the university has announced the closure of the institute China’s controversial CI after 15 years of operation.

They asked if we would consider negotiating further. We said we wouldn’t,” the university’s vice-rector Hanna Snellman has disclosed.

The University’s agreement with the CI expires next January.

Confucius Institutes 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 and 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.

Activists and rights groups have long protested against such Chinese institutes and spread ascribe the world and declared them “extensions of the Chinese government,” stifling  “academic freedom and free speech.” 

Besides, CI is known for censoring and silencing discussions on important political and human rights issues like Tibet, East Turkestan, Taiwan, Falun Gong and Tiananmen Square.

While at it, 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.

Additionally, the FBI has also described the CI as a source of concern while declaring China as the most severe counterintelligence threat to the US.

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