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New visa policy sets barriers for Confucius Institutes in US (3)

By Wen Xian, Zhang Yang and Zhengqi (People's Daily)

16:23, May 25, 2012

It is unclear what prompted the State Department to issue such a policy statement. After all, Confucius Institutes have been on U.S. campuses for nearly a decade. As the director-general of Hanban noted, Confucius Institutes are committed to helping people across the world learn Chinese and understand Chinese culture, enhancing China's educational and cultural exchanges and cooperation with other countries, and promoting the friendship between Chinese and foreigners.

All Confucius Institutes in the United States were established at the request of U.S. institutions, and have received great help, including volunteer teachers, from the headquarters. Chinese volunteers have overcome various difficulties, and taught students in an active and enthusiastic manner, earning wide recognition and popularity among local schools and parents. Chinese and U.S. colleges and universities have carried out fruitful cooperation in running Confucius Institutes, which have greatly promoted the cultural exchanges between the two countries.

Confucius Institutes are now operating with more than 350 educational institutions in 106 countries. The Confucius Classroom program designed for foreign primary and secondary school students is developing at an even faster pace, with more than 500 such classrooms already set up worldwide. There have been 81 Confucius Institutes and more than 300 Confucius Classrooms in the United States since the University of Maryland and China's Nankai University jointly established the first Confucius Institute in the country. About 127 of the over 300 Confucius Classrooms are affiliated with Confucius Institutes.

Certain U.S. political forces have long been groundlessly criticizing Confucius Institutes, and made constant attempts to tarnish the image of Confucius Institutes. U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher accused China of spreading its propaganda by exploiting private media and public education, at a hearing titled "The Price of Public Diplomacy with China" held by the investigations and oversight subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, on March 28.

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