The Confucius Institute Question

To: Dr. Gene Block, Chancellor, University of California, Los Angeles
From: David Wolf, California taxpayer, UCSD alumnus, UC Davis alumnus UCLA extension alumnus, and son of a UCLA alumnus

Dear Dr. Block:

I know that you are busy, so please pardon my intrusion into your holiday week. I have a concern I need to raise with you.

You have enough money in the campus budget to teach Afrikaans, Ancient Near-Eastern Languages, Arabic, Armenian, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek (Ancient and Modern), Hausa, Hebrew, Hungarian, Quechua, Iranian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian, Hindi, Vietnamese, Thai, Tagalog, Indonesian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swahili, Turkish, Uzbek, Azeri, Ukrainian, Yiddish, Yoruba, and Zulu.

But when it comes to teaching Chinese, the language spoken by more people on the planet earth with the exception of English, you find it necessary to go begging to the Chinese Communist Party – via the Confucius Institutes – to adequately fund and staff instruction in that language.

This is, at best, a misallocation of priorities. If there are three languages that should be taught at your institution, they are English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. All of those should be funded as a matter of necessity. Choosing to fund staff in French, German, and Norwegian over Chinese suggests that the university might be losing touch with its core mission.

At worst, this compromises the independence of a public institution of higher learning. The Chinese government official charged with the oversight of the Confucius Institutes is not shy about her goals.

May I respectfully suggest that the university seek a way to fund instruction in the Chinese language and literature that does not entail a dependence on the funding of a foreign government with complex motives? And may I further suggest that such alternate funding not come paired with implicit leverage that might be used to undermine the political, philosophical, and behavioral freedom of the UCLA community?

Many thanks,

David Wolf

fdawei

Yes David Lloyd-Jones. Not only to the American Way but also in Canada, Europe, South America. This is a stealth approach by the CCP, under the guise of culture and language, to push its twisted historical agenda to the rest of the world through the CIs, while eliminating free speech and an open exchange of ideas on campuses and elsewhere.
Dr. Block must question why so many universities in Europe, the USA and Canada are now cancelling their contracts with the CI?
fdawei – Beijing

fdawei

Good luck, David Wolf. Dr. Block must be made to realize he is compromising the academic freedom and integrity the the University of California by subscribing to the contract between his university and the CCP aka Confucius Institute. Open discussion will cease. Sensitive issues will be eliminated. Pages will be torn from “illegal” manuscripts, many areas of interest will be blocked on the Internet, frank discussions about China’s past 66 years will be “not for comment or discussion” or whitewashed.
Please keep us informed of your progress
fdawei – Beijing.

Karl

David, you’re entirely right here and your point is, if anything, understated.

As bad as the CI’s are, I think it’s almost worse to see great institutions like Duke University and NYU making massive compromises to open branches in Chinese cities. They’re in essence lending their names and prestige to the Chinese vision of higher education with all the compromises and undermining of the highest ideals of academia you’d expect that to include.

Interacting with China in a respectful and principled way is always a challenge. But as you point out, when important ideals are compromised, the key factor is generally leverage. It may be time for any school with US tax-payer funding (or tax exemptions) to be regulated in a way that removes foreign leverage from them at home and prevents them from putting themselves in compromising positions abroad.

joseph.lemien@gmail.com

Because money is fungible, doesn’t accepting the assistance of the Confucius Institute free up resources for the university to use in support of Afrikaans, Ancient Near-Eastern Languages, Arabic, etc.?