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PRESS STATEMENT: The UK fails to follow through on its promise to eliminate Confucius Institutes

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

PRESS STATEMENT: The UK fails to follow through on its promise to eliminate the pervasive influence of Confucius Institutes

20 January 2023 – Next week, the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) will host its annual China-Scotland Business Awards, which recognize UK businesses that have promoted investment in China’s leading companies and universities. The University of Glasgow’s Confucius Institute will sponsor the CBBC’s ‘China-Scotland Business Awards and the Chinese Burns Night’ to advocate for increased collaboration between Chinese and Scottish educational institutions.

It is disappointing that the British government continues to allow Glasgow University’s Confucius Institute to promote UK-China relations. This award evening flouts the UK government’s response to the findings of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation (CFHK) and the Henry Jackson Society’s (HJS) report in September 2022 on the threat posed by Confucius Institutes in British universities.

Following the launch of the CFHK Foundation and HJS’ report, Prime Minister Liz Truss overruled the Department of Education’s support for Chinese influence in the UK’s higher education system and ordered that the government step up its efforts to curtail these bodies. Tom Tugendhat has continued Truss’ policy aimed at curtailing Confucius Institutes by declaring that the UK would ban them from UK universities. Tugendhat stated that Confucius Institutes “pose a threat to civil liberties in many universities in the United Kingdom”. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) threat to freedom and democracy is unceasing. The UK government should not back down from its pledge to remove Confucius Institutes from the UK’s higher education system for the sake of freedom of thought worldwide.

The CFHK Foundation President, Mark Clifford, said:

“Scottish universities’ Confucius Institutes are promoting trade and investment while students in Hong Kong are being imprisoned for peaceful protest and speaking the truth. Now is not the time for the British government to reverse its policy promises. The CCP’s continued infiltration of UK higher education must end. Universities are a place for free speech and critical inquiry, not propaganda and authoritarianism. The UK government must follow through on its vow to stamp out Confucius Institutes.”

Author of the CFHK Foundation and HJS Report, Sam Dunning, said:

“Senior Chinese officials have openly described Confucius Institutes’ supposed mission of teaching Mandarin as a front for other goals. Of course, they say this in Mandarin, not English. Ironically, so useless are Confucius Institutes at teaching Mandarin that the attitude of Chinese officials remains mostly ignored.

“It is no surprise to see a Confucius Institute lobby for ties with the CCP instead of educating people. Confucius Institutes are a sham devised by the CCP in order to gain a footing in Western universities. Universities dedicated to free inquiry should be ashamed of their naivety. We need free and independent scholarship about China, not lobbying that sanitises a regime committing ethnic cleansing.”

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