Currently there are 282 Confucius Institutes in 88 countries, along with 272 smaller-scale classrooms, and many more are planned, with the government reportedly looking to have 1,000 open by 2020.
Their worldwide expansion has been seen as part of a move to spread “soft power” or global influence, based upon the ideas of the American academic Joseph Nye.
Xue Qing Guo, a professor and vice dean at the Arabic department of Beijing Foreign Studies University, which is likely to partner with Zayed University to launch a Confucius Institute in Abu Dhabi next year, said the aim of the centres was to “enhance mutual understanding” between Chinese people and foreigners.
…The opening of so many Confucius Institutes has not been without controversy. Jocelyn Chey, a visiting professor at the University of Sydney and a former diplomat, wrote in a 2007 paper that universities that opened Confucius Institutes risked compromising the academic integrity of their research. The centres could “produce propaganda”, she wrote.