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China says U.S. directive on Confucius Institutes "may harm friendship" (2)

(Xinhua)

08:05, May 25, 2012

One of the institutes' most important missions is providing those studying Chinese in foreign countries and regions with standardized, authoritative and modern Chinese textbooks and learning opportunities, according to an introduction to the institutes.

Confucius Institutes have been opened in more than 350 educational institutions in 106 countries, and the amount of Confucius Classrooms in elementary and secondary schools have increased to more than 500.

The United States currently has the largest amount of Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms around the world, with 81 institutes and 299 classrooms in 48 states.

American universities such as Stanford University, Columbia University and the University of Chicago have sponsored the institutes and classrooms on their campuses with nearly 160,000 registered learners.

After the U.S. State Department sent the directive, the College of William and Mary in Virginia replied with a letter, which said, "as the home of the newest Confucius Institute in the country, formally opened just a month ago, William and Mary has already witnessed firsthand the dramatic and highly positive impact of this program on our teaching, research, and community outreach about Chinese language and culture."

"Some aspects of the State Department directive, however, might severely restrict our efforts in these regards. Requiring the William and Mary Confucius Institute to gain independent accreditation, for example, would almost certainly force us to close our Confucius Institute," said the letter.

It added that the college hopes the State Department will work together with its Chinese partners to "support the efforts of Hanban, the agency that funds Confucius Institutes worldwide."

Gaston Caperton, president of the U.S. College Board, said in April in Washington that China has played an increasingly important role in the international community and the American people, especially the young generation, need to know about China's economy, culture and folk customs.

Cultural exchanges are an important method of promoting mutual trust, and learning Chinese language is a bridge for achieving those objectives, Caperton said.

"Those Chinese teachers went to the United States with friendliness toward the American people, but they might return feeling the hurt, which is a kind of harm to the friendship between the American and Chinese people," said the Chinese official.

Related Reading

Why is Washington so scared of Confucius?

According to a new US State Department directive last week, Confucius Institutes in the US must obtain American accreditation. The directive also says that some academics at these institutes who are holding J-1 visas will not get their visas extended, which means they will have to leave the US. If the directive comes into force, Confucius Institutes and Schools in the US will face a lot of trouble. The US obviously wants this.

US targets Confucius Institutes over visas

Dozens of Chinese teachers at Confucius Institutes in the United States could be forced to leave by June 30 due to a State Department directive, the head of the institute's Beijing headquarters said on Thursday.

China "in consultation" with U.S. on Confucius Institutes

China is "in consultation" with the United States on a visa issue affecting the Mandarin-teaching Confucius Institutes, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Thursday.


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