Canada’s McMaster University is closing down a controversial Chinese language class, following a complaint over its discriminating hiring practices.
The Confucius Institute was set up in 2008 with the Beijing Language and Culture University. The Institute is partly funded by the Chinese government.
In 2011, Sonia Zhao came to Canada as a teacher for the Institute, but her contract signed in China contained this—a line stating that she can’t be a Falun Gong practitioner.
The problem? Sonia Zhao did practice Falun Gong. The spiritual practice is also known as Falun Dafa, and the Chinese regime has severely persecuted its adherents since 1999. When Sonia came to Canada, she had to hide her belief from her Chinese co-workers.
[Sonia Zhao, Former Confucius Institute Teacher]:
“You just can’t be yourself. That’s how I feel for a whole year. That’s my life.”
Sonia says she only felt free after her term at the institution ended. She filed a complaint at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
Andrea Farquhar, the Assistant Vice-President of Public and Government Relations at McMaster, told NTD that the university was raising concerns about the Institute’s hiring practices “for a considerable time before the human rights case was filed.”
McMaster tried to reach a resolution with its counterparts in Beijing. But after no success, the university announced on February 7th it will close down its Confucius Institute this summer.
The Falun Dafa Association of Canada was pleased to hear the news. The organization has been supporting Sonia in the case.
[Joel Chipkar, Spokesperson, Falun Dafa Association of Canada]:
“Our important argument is that the Confucius Institutes, through getting the universities to sign contracts, have become a part of that Canadian University. They’re not separate legal entities, they’re all one entity, which means that if Confucius Institute is discriminating against people in their contracts, then the university is actually discriminating against people in their contracts.”
Confucius Institutes are supported by the Chinese government, with more than 300 branches world-wide.
The Chinese regime say the Institutes simply promote Chinese language and culture, but the Canadian Security Intelligence Service says they’re part of China’s efforts to extend its “soft power” abroad.
Sonia Zhao and McMaster will attend mediation on February 14 over her complaint.
Original NTD Television article.