|Confucius, You Da Man|
Will The Chinese Scholars At NSU Operate On That Principle?
(photo from pixshark.com)
There's no contradicting that sentiment, but it does make me wonder why the PRC feels like it has to set up entire "institutes" at American universities in order to facilitate the teaching of language and culture. Seems to me we have plenty of homegrown scholars that can get that job done without inviting an entire apparatus from the country whose language and culture are to be taught. And anyway, "language" I get. But what are fields of study that constitute "culture?" Seems a bit broad to me and my first instinct is to question the motivation. Before you write me off as reflexively paranoid, consider what's been going on with these Confucius Institutes at other schools around the U.S.
But first, our rock-ribbed conservative Republican leadership has allowed this entree into South Dakota's public university system without much discussion or debate. That's actually pretty amazing, considering that their intellectually and ideologically conservative doyennes at The Heritage Foundation scorched the Confucius Institute last month in a report that concludes: 1) that CI "attempts to stifle free and open debate on China;" 2) "misrepresents" its link to PRC's Education Ministry; 3) "non-disclosure clauses make the entire enterprise opaque;" 4) (Get this one!) "that CIs have been set up as bases for industrial espionage and to pursue Chinese students and other Chinese nationals who stray from the party line here in the United States;" and 5) by selective hiring, "CIs break U.S. labor and employment laws." This is a pretty darn serious list of accusations, well-documented by the folks at The Heritage Foundation.
As to the ground game as it has played out on campuses themselves, the Confucius Institute has had plenty of troubles. The Heritage Foundation piece details issues that came up at
Some Chinese Studies Offered At NSU. PRC Will Decide Which Ones
(photo from Aberdeen American News)
My take is that nobody in this process really cares if South Dakota's university students learn a thing about China, its economy, its politics, its form of government. Or for that matter its disdain for academic freedom. What we seem to be caring about here is the facilitation of business dealings, and business dealings alone. A worthy mission, whose good intentions are wrecked by forgoing any attempt at learning about what China really is, which, of course, ruins the whole idea of what a university is all about in the first place.