The reportby the Henry Jackson Society, details that the centers are “financially dependent on Chinese government funding and, in general, are subject to the speech restrictions of the People’s Republic of China.”
The modern liberal democracy think tank says the Confucius Institutes – which in the UK have received £33,426,300 in funding from Chinese sources – “engage in activities far beyond ‘language and of the culture’ “.
The authors found that only four of the 30 centers “stick entirely to language and culture” and called on the government to introduce measures to remove Confucius Institutes from UK universities.
“CCP-supervised bodies should have no place in higher education in the UK. The CCP and the Western academy have opposite values. Any partnership between the two is unsustainable and demeaning,” the report said.
“Operating under the aegis of prestigious universities, Confucius Institutes inform government policies and politicians, help establish science and technology partnerships, offer business advisory services, promote trade, [and] organize academic events that are supposed to highlight Chinese politics,” he added.
The centers also cooperated with UK organizations working with the CCP’s agency, the United Front Work Department, which was recently highlighted by MI5.
The new report says the UK should also provide £5m to UK universities to allocate to China studies and build knowledge about China’s presence in the UK, and start working with others. Mandarin-speaking countries such as Taiwan to develop new programs.
British parliamentarians have recently lobbied for Taiwan to “play a bigger role in teaching Mandarin in the UK”.
They have also – including former prime minister hopeful Rishi Sunak – called for the “phasing out” of Confucius Institutes, following similar moves in the United States, Japan, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark.
The report notes that legislation passed in Australia in 2020 is expected to impact Confucius Institutes in the country, but no academic centers have yet been closed.
A report earlier this year said the institutes were a “risk” to “academic freedom and student welfare”, but it did not call for them to be closed in Australia.
‘There is no good reason why the UK should put its higher education sector at risk’
Henry Jackson Society added that the UK should amend its Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill – currently in committee in the House of Lords – to demand that “academic partnerships with foreign powers safeguard freedom of expression and comply with equality legislation”.
“There is no good reason why a country like the UK should put its higher education sector at risk by being dependent on a foreign government for the teaching of a major global language,” concludes the document.