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中国正利用154个国家的教育机构来传播其影响并威胁学术自由

2019年3月25日,老挝万象市班农坪小学,一名中国志愿者教师与当地学生互动。班农坪小学于2013年在中国的帮助下成立。(新华社/王精强/MAXPP)

中共正在发动一场全球宣传战,试图平息海外批评人士的声音,而与此同时,中国已经对国内异议人士发起了自30年前天安门大屠杀以来最具镇压力的镇压。

它的士兵包括中国国家媒体记者、外交官和留学生,这些人都是被征募来参加中国共产党的投标的。最近的一个例子是伦敦经济学院在中国学生的压力下决定调整雕塑上对台湾的描绘。

它的武器包括政治渗透和影响力、全球媒体机构、对国外积极分子的威胁和侵略、企图劫持和破坏联合国人权议程的企图,以及——正如一些人慢慢意识到的那样——部署数百个植入大学的听起来无害的语言和文化机构。还有学校。

中国的孔子学院表面上看起来只是英国文化委员会、美国中心、法国联盟或德国的歌德学院的一部分,现在在154个国家至少有548所大学和1193所学校。中国的预算为3.14亿美元,教师4.62万人,学生170万人,计划到2020年拥有1000所孔子学院,这就是所谓的“孔子革命”。

韩国于2004年开设了世界上第一所孔子学院,目前拥有23所孔子学院,其中亚洲最多。泰国是该地区的第二大孔子学院,有16所孔子学院,而日本有15所孔子学院。印度尼西亚有七个,印度、巴基斯坦、菲律宾和马来西亚有四个,但孔子学院也存在于新加坡、阿富汗、斯里兰卡、尼泊尔、蒙古、香港、柬埔寨、Laos和越南。

英国在爱丁堡、利物浦、曼彻斯特、纽卡斯尔、诺丁汉、加的夫和伦敦大学学院等主要大学至少有29所孔子课堂,是世界上仅次于美国的第二大孔子课堂。

孔子学院的宗旨是教授汉语和文化,这当然是受欢迎的。随着中国成为世界超级大国,我们需要了解它的历史和文化,我们需要更多的人来讲这门语言。但是刮擦表面,你会发现这并不是他们所做的一切。它们也对教育机构和民主国家的学术自由和言论自由构成潜在威胁。

大约12年前,当时的中国共产党宣传部长李长春(音译)将孔子学院描述为“中国海外宣传机构的重要组成部分”。2010年,中国教育部汉办(Hanban)一个部门的总干事徐林(音译)证实,中国共产党希望扩大其影响力,孔子学院是中国的一个重要组成部分。中国软实力的重要组成部分。

孔子学院由汉办直接控制、资助和管理,汉办目前由中共中央政治局委员孙春兰主持,孙春兰曾领导过中共主要宣传机构统一战线工作部。

中国宣传部长刘云山2010年表示,“海外宣传要全面、多层次、宽领域······要搞好海外文化中心和孔子学院的建设和运营。”即使是国家主席胡锦涛,也赞同这些学院是“培养和准备”的一种方式。一群人(或军队),以确保中国共产党在未来能够掌权······并增加中国共产党在世界各地的影响力。”

今年早些时候,英国保守党人权委员会根据对孔子学院的调查发表了一份报告。它借鉴了专家和以孔子名义拍摄的纪录片中的证据,得出的结论是,孔子学院威胁学术自由和言论自由,正如中国共产党自己所说,它代表了中国政权在其边界之外传播宣传和镇压批评者的努力。

这一结论与美国国会、美国中央情报局(CIA)以及加拿大和比利时的情报机构得出的结论一致。2018年,中情局警告说,不要以学术审查换取中国对大学的资助,联邦调查局局长告诉参议院情报委员会,孔子学院正在接受调查。

国会已经通过立法,加强对大学外国资金透明度的要求,要求孔子学院在司法部注册成为中国政府的代理人。加拿大前亚太地区情报局局长迈克尔·朱诺·卡苏亚(Michael Juneau Katsuya)声称,孔子学院与中国的情报机构有联系,“对我们的社会来说,这是一个明确而不可否认的威胁。”

孔子学院有一个共同的主题:从“天安门”、“西藏”和“台湾”开始,全面压制三个主题的讨论。

美国国家学者协会(National Association of Acaders)政策主任雷切尔·彼得森(Rachelle Peterson)表示,孔子学院代表着“由中国政府监督的颠覆性政治议程”,而诺丁汉特伦特大学(Nottingham Trent University)讲师陶章(Tao Zhang)则表示,它们“在战略上位于多所外国大学,允许中国人授权。”争取在中国研究中获得控制权的优先权。”

她补充说,这是“中国教育体系的延伸,由国家直接控制,与中国的学校和大学具有相同的思想和宣传作用。”

许多大学在来自中国的压力下撤回对有争议的演讲人的邀请,或删除某些出版物。

2014年,在葡萄牙举行的欧洲汉语学习协会会议上,汉办主任徐林没收了所有印刷的节目,并下令删除台湾共同赞助机构的广告页。同样,孔子学院出版的一本书在中国专家伊莎贝尔·希尔顿的一章中对中国持不同政见者吴立红的环保行动进行了全面审查。对达赖喇嘛的邀请已被撤回或移出校园。

对个人信仰的歧视

也许最令人毛骨悚然的是所谓的孔子学院雇佣行为的歧视。根据全国学者协会的说法,汉办对孔子学院教师的资格标准包括他们应该“没有参加法轮功的记录”。

索尼娅·赵,一位从事佛学精神运动法轮功的中国教师,受雇于汉办,被派往加拿大麦克马斯特大学孔子学院。在去加拿大之前,她在北京接受了为期三个月的培训。”她说:“我们被告知要告诉学生只有一个中国,台湾是中国的一部分,······西藏是中国的一部分······我们被告知不要谈论台湾和西藏等问题。”

“我们还必须签署一份合同。合同上写着“我们不能做法轮功的实践者”······这一合同在所有国家的孔子学院生效。这项合同显示了对教师个人信仰的歧视,这就是他们如何侵犯世界各地的信仰自由。”

2011年,赵松雅向麦克马斯特大学通报了这些担忧。她害怕,如果她承认自己是法轮功从业者,她会受到惩罚。由于她的投诉,麦克马斯特大学终止了与汉办的关系,关闭了孔子学院。从那时起,其他人也开始效仿。至少30所大学和一个学校董事会已经或将与孔子学院断绝关系。

孔子学院绝不是中国唯一的软实力工具。但与中国学生、学者协会相结合,对学术自由构成了强大的威胁。他们还关注在国外留学的中国学生,否则他们可能会觉得思想和表达的自由很有吸引力。

正如伦敦经济学院(London School of Economics)的克里斯托弗休斯(Christopher Hughes)教授在一篇关于这一主题的论文中所说,当伦敦经济学院(LSE)2006年开办孔子学院时,“中国学生······表示,他们对来到外国大学感到失望,结果却发现他们自己的政府在校园内建立了一个组织,这让他们觉得这是一种深思熟虑。H他们仍然在中国生活的监视之下。”一个学生告诉休斯教授,孔子学院感觉像是闭路电视,“有可能吓跑我的批判性思维。”

那么应该怎么做呢?显然,我们不能脱离中国。但正如英国下议院外交事务委员会(HouseofCommons ForeignAffairs Committee)上周发表的报告所言,我们需要重新调整我们的关系,把国家安全放在首位。

作为重新调整的一部分,我们不仅应该重新审视贸易与人权的平衡,华为的安全问题,以及最近英国皇家联合服务学院(Royal United Services Institute)的报告和克莱夫·汉密尔顿(Clive Hamilton)在澳大利亚的优秀著作《无声入侵》(The Silent Investion)中详述的政治影响问题,还应该重新审视孔子学院。

“我知道压力和恐惧,”赵松雅说。没有人值得这样做。我希望孔子学院能够关闭,这样老师可以自由地教授汉语,学生可以了解真正的中国和中国文化,而不是中国共产党人的文化。”

如果我们现在还不愿意关闭孔子学院,我们至少应该考虑类似于美国立法的措施——进行彻底的审查,暂停与孔子学院的任何新交易,直到审查完成,并确保采取措施确保学术自由和言论自由,不被剥夺。对资金来源的定罪和完全透明。

我们应该记住退休的英国外交官罗杰·加赛德的话,他说:“允许中国共产党控制的国家机构在任何学校或大学建立教学机构,学术自由从本质上受到了损害。”

或者,正如雷切尔·彼得森所说,“现在不仅对我们学校的诚信构成威胁,更重要的是对高等教育的未来和所有自由国家的未来构成威胁。”这当然是采取行动的理由。

本尼迪克特·罗杰斯是保守党人权委员会副主席。他也是东亚人权组织CSW和香港观察主席的东亚组长。

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Propaganda in the name of Confucius

China is using educational institutes in154 countries to spread its influence and threaten academic freedom

Benedict Rogers

China

April24,2019

A Chinese volunteer teacher interacts with local students at Ban Nongping Elementary School in Vientiane, Laos, March25,2019. Ban Nongping Elementary School was established in2013 with aid from China.(Xinhua/Wang Jingqiang/MaxPPP)

China is waging a global propaganda war in an attempt to silence overseas critics at a time when it has unleashed the most repressive crackdown on internal dissent since the Tiananmen Square massacre30 years ago.

Its soldiers include Chinese state media reporters, diplomats and students studying overseas, recruited to do the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party(CCP). The most recent example has been the decision by the London School of Economics to adjust the depiction of Taiwan on a sculpture after pressure from Chinese students.

Its weapons include political infiltration and influence, a global media outfit, threats and aggression towards activists abroad, an attempt to hijack and derail the human rights agenda at the United Nations, and— as some are slowly realizing— deploying hundreds of innocuous-sounding language and culture institutions embedded in universities and schools.

China's Confucius Institutes, which on the surface appear to be simply an equivalent of the British Council, American Center, Alliance Francaise or Germany's Goethe Institutes, are now present in at least548 universities and1,193 schools in154 countries. With a US$314 million budget,46,200 teachers and1.7 million students, China aims to have1,000 Confucius Institutes by2020 in what it calls a"Confucius revolution."

South Korea opened the world's first Confucius Institute in2004, and it now has23, the most in Asia. Thailand, second in the region, has16 Confucius Institutes, while Japan has15. Indonesia has seven and India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Malaysia have four, but Confucius Institutes also exist in Singapore, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Britain has at least29, the second-largest number in the world after the United States, in major universities such as Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Cardiff and University College London, along with148 Confucius"classrooms" in schools around the country.

Confucius Institutes purport to teach Chinese language and culture, which is surely welcome. As China takes its place as a world superpower, we need to understand its history and culture, and we need more people to speak the language. But scratch the surface and you find that it is not all they do. They also represent a potential threat to academic freedom and freedom of expression in educational institutions and democracies.

About12 years ago, the CCP's propaganda chief at the time, Li Changchun, described Confucius Institutes as"an important part of China's overseas propaganda set-up." In2010, Xu Lin, director-general of a unit of China's education ministry known as the Hanban, confirmed that the party wanted to expand its influence and Confucius Institutes were an important part of China's soft power.

Confucius Institutes are directly controlled, funded and staffed by the Hanban, which is currently chaired by Sun Chunlan, a Politburo member who previously headed the United Front Work Department, the party's principal propaganda outfit.

China's propaganda minister Liu Yunshan said in2010 that"overseas propaganda should be comprehensive, multi-level and wide-ranging··· We should do well in establishing and operating overseas cultural centers and Confucius Institutes." Even President Hu Jintao, Xi Jinping's predecessor, endorsed the institutes as a way"to cultivate and prepare a group(or army) of people to make sure the CCP will be in power in the future··· and increase our CCP influence around the world."

Earlier this year Britain's Conservative Party Human Rights Commission published a report based on an inquiry into Confucius Institutes. It draws on evidence from experts, and from the documentary film In the Name of Confucius, and its conclusion is that Confucius Institutes threaten academic freedom and freedom of expression, and represent— as the CCP itself says— an endeavor by the Chinese regime to spread its propaganda and suppress its critics beyond its borders.

This conclusion is consistent with that reached by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) and intelligence agencies in Canada and Belgium. In2018, the CIA cautioned against Chinese funding to universities in exchange for academic censorship, and the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Confucius Institutes are under investigation.

Congress has introduced legislation strengthening requirements for transparency of foreign funding for universities, requiring Confucius Institutes to register with the Department of Justice as agents of the Chinese government. And Canada's former Asia-Pacific intelligence chief Michael Juneau-Katsuya claims that Confucius Institutes are linked to China's intelligence services and"represent a clear and undeniable menace to our society."

Confucius Institutes have one common theme: the total suppression of discussion of three topics beginning with'T'— Tiananmen, Tibet and Taiwan.

Rachelle Peterson, policy director of the U.S.-based National Association of Scholars, says that Confucius Institutes represent a"subversive political agenda overseen by the Chinese government," while Nottingham Trent University lecturer Tao Zhang says that they"are strategically located in various foreign universities, allowing the Chinese authorities to gain a foothold for the exercise of control over the study of China."

They are, she adds,"an extension of the Chinese education system, directly controlled by the state and having the same ideological and propaganda roles as schools and universities in China."

Examples abound of universities withdrawing invitations to controversial speakers under pressure from China, or removing certain publications.

In2014, at a European Association for Chinese Studies conference in Portugal, Hanban director-general Xu Lin confiscated all the printed programs and ordered pages advertising a Taiwanese co-sponsor to be removed. Similarly, a book published by a Confucius Institute completely censored an entire section about Chinese dissident Wu Lihong's environmental activism in a chapter by China expert Isabel Hilton. Invitations to the Dalai Lama have been withdrawn or moved off campus.

Discrimination against personal beliefs

Perhaps most chilling is the alleged discrimination in hiring practices in Confucius Institutes. According to the National Association of Scholars, Hanban eligibility criteria for Confucius Institute teachers has included that they should"have no record of participation in Falun Gong."

Sonia Zhao, a Chinese teacher who practiced Falun Gong, a Buddha-school spiritual movement, was employed by Hanban and sent to the Confucius Institute at McMaster University in Canada. Prior to going to Canada, she was given a three-month training course in Beijing."We were told to tell the students that there is only one China, Taiwan is part of China,··· Tibet is part of China··· We were told not to talk about issues like Taiwan and Tibet," she says.

"We also had to sign a contract. In the contract it says that'we can't be Falun Gong practitioners'··· This contract takes effect in all Confucius Institutes in all countries. This contract shows discrimination against teachers' personal beliefs and this is how they violated freedom of belief worldwide."

In2011, Sonia Zhao alerted McMaster University to these concerns. She was afraid that, if she admitted to being a Falun Gong practitioner, she would be punished. As a result of her complaint, McMaster University terminated its relationship with the Hanban and closed its Confucius Institute. Since then, others have followed suit. At least30 universities and one school board have or will cut ties with Confucius Institutes.

Confucius Institutes are by no means China's only soft power tool. But when combined with the Chinese Students and Scholars Associations, they represent a powerful menace to academic freedom. They also serve to keep an eye on Chinese students studying abroad, who might otherwise find freedom of thought and expression appealing.

As Prof. Christopher Hughes of the London School of Economics says in a paper on the subject, when the LSE opened a Confucius Institute in2006,"Chinese students··· revealed that they were disappointed to arrive at a foreign university only to discover that their own government had established an organization on campus that made it feel as though they were still under the kind of surveillance that they had to live with in China." One student told Prof. Hughes that the Confucius Institute felt like closed-circuit television and"has the potential to scare away my critical thinking.".

So what should be done? Clearly, we cannot disengage with China. But as the UK's House of Commons foreign affairs committee report published last week argues, we need to recalibrate our relationship and put national security first.

As part of that recalibration, we should be re-examining not only the balance of trade versus human rights, and the security concerns around Huawei, and the questions of political influence detailed in a recent Royal United Services Institute report and in Clive Hamilton's excellent book in the Australian context, Silent Invasion, but also the question of Confucius Institutes.

"I know the pressure and fear," says Sonia Zhao."No one deserves that. I hope Confucius Institutes can be closed so that teachers can teach Chinese language freely and students can learn about the real China and Chinese culture, not the Chinese communists' culture."

If we are unwilling to go as far as to close Confucius Institutes just yet, we should at least consider measures similar to the U.S. legislation— conduct a thorough review, suspend any new deals with Confucius Institutes until a review is complete, and ensure measures are in place to guarantee academic freedom and freedom of expression, non-discrimination and complete transparency of funding sources.

We would do well to remember the words of retired British diplomat Roger Garside, who says that"academic freedom is inherently compromised by permitting a state agency controlled by the Communist Party of China to establish a teaching operation in any school or university."

Or, as Rachelle Peterson says,"there is a threat not only to the integrity of our institutions today but more importantly to the future of higher education and the future of all free countries." That, surely, is reason to act.

Benedict Rogers is deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission. He is also East Asia team leader at international human rights organization CSW and chairman of Hong Kong Watch.[博讯来稿]

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