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Thursday, April 23, 2015
Chinese Communist 'Confucius Institute' a Threat to Academic Freedom at UH Manoa
By News Release @ 2:33 AM :: 6233 Views :: First Amendment, Higher Education



News Release from Students for a Free Tibet April 23, 2015

[NEW YORK] After an eight-month investigation into the 482 Chinese government-run Confucius Institutes (CIs) (1), Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) (2) has obtained testimony from a Canadian-Tibetan that, while a student, she was warned by Brock University in Canada not to display a Tibetan national flag, for fear of damaging their relationship with the Chinese government-backed Confucius Institute.

Tenzin Dechen, now a Brock University graduate, was warned by the university’s International Student Services Manager that she would “create a problem” (3) between Brock University and the CI by bringing the Tibetan national flag to the “Celebration of Nations” event on campus in March 2014, and could also strain relations with the government of China and the Chinese market. SFT has obtained an email that was forwarded to Tenzin in which the CI Director’s email cautions against the use of the Tibetan national flag at the event.

Tenzin Dechen says: “My family fled Tibet because of the Chinese government’s oppression. Never did I imagine they would find a way to silence my voice through the Confucius Institute at my own university here in Canada. I fear that countless students worldwide studying at universities hosting a Confucius Institute are being left vulnerable to a censored education system.”

Students for a Free Tibet has launched a global “Say No to China’s Confucius Institutes” campaign (4) today, urging educational institutions to terminate ties to CIs in order to protect academic freedom. SFT has sent letters of concern to over 200 senior university administrators in 30 countries. The letters outline the threat to academic freedom and integrity posed by the CIs and urge universities to cancel their partnership. One recent response received by SFT demonstrates how willing some universities are to accept China’s undemocratic influence on students: “We accept that the Confucius institute is one of many arms of the Chinese government’s outreach to the rest of the world and, as such, is a potential source of propaganda. However, the USA is not at war with China”.

Tenzin Dolkar, Students for a Free Tibet’s Executive Director says: “The Chinese government-controlled Confucius Institutes are designed to infiltrate our schools and influence students into accepting China’s lies about Tibet, Taiwan and human rights. While hiding behind slogans  promoting Chinese culture, the Chinese government is buying our schools into silence. There is a shocking number of university administrators willing to allow the Chinese government to export an education system to our campuses that is eroding democratic values, freedom of expression and academic freedom.”

In light of the growing attention to the threat of academic freedom, independent inquiry, and human rights that CIs pose, in 2014 alone, numerous universities ended ties with the CIs, including the University of Chicago, Stockholm University and Pennsylvania State University.

End Notes:

  1. CIs establish partnerships at schools outside China and are subsidized by China’s Ministry of Education. More background information in SFT’s CI Media Kit:
  2. Students for a Free Tibet is the largest student and youth based organization for Tibet and works in solidarity with the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom and independence.
  3. Written testimony and E-Mail evidence from Tenzin Dechen:
  4. “Say No to China’s Confucius Institutes” campaign website:

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Confucius Institute at UH Manoa:


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