McMaster University Closing Confucius Institute

The Globe and Mail reports that Canada’s McMaster University will not be renewing their contract with the Confucius Institute – a Chinese educational soft power mechanism that has drawn controversy at home and abroad:

McMaster will pull the plug when the current contract, which is up for renewal, expires July 31.

The decision to abandon the partnership comes in the midst of a human rights complaint against McMaster from a former teacher at the institute.

It was sealed by concerns over hiring practices – reported last year by The Globe and Mail – that appeared to prohibit teachers Hanban hired and sent abroad to staff the schools from having certain beliefs.

[…]Chinese authorities have maintained Confucius Institutes are harmless, designed as a “a bridge reinforcing friendship and co-operation between China and the rest of the world” through teaching the Chinese language and culture.

But Sonia Zhao, who came to Canada to teach at McMaster’s institute in 2011, says she is pleased.

Ms. Zhao quit her post a year later, then complained to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that McMaster was “giving legitimization to discrimination” because her employment contract forced her to hide her belief in Falun Gong, a spiritual movement the Chinese government deems dangerous.[…]

Falun Gong-founded Epoch Times quotes a Falun Gong spokesperson on the announcement:

Lucy Zhou, a spokesperson with the Falun Dafa Association of Canada, says she is happy with the university’s decision to close the CI.

“We are very encouraged to see that McMaster University is attempting to correct a mistake they made when they invited the Confucius Institute to their university without realizing their discriminatory practices against Falun Gong in their hiring practices,” Zhou says.

“The illegal persecution of Falun Gong is ruthless and permeates all facets of the society in China, including the education system. This kind of discrimination imported into Canada is a serious violation of human rights.”

Also see prior CDT coverage of the Confucius Institutesoft power and Falun Gong.

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