New Brunswick has announced a plan to remove the Chinese regime’s controversial Confucius Institutes from its school system, the province’s education minister has announced.
According to CBC News, the removal will be done in two stages, with the program closing at 18 schools by the end of this month and the rest by 2022.
Beijing claims that CIs are cultural and language programs. However, intelligence communities say they are part of the communist regime’s means of exerting influence abroad. In recent years, an increasing number of educational institutions in Canada, the United States, Australia, and Europe have cut ties with CIs.
New Brunswick Education Minister Dominic Cardy has been the driving force behind getting rid of CIs in his province, despite resistance from the premier, who is concerned about exports to Beijing.
In a previous interview with CBC, Cardy said that the programs offer a “one-dimensional” view of China and only give a positive view of the communist-run country to students.
“Their job is to create a friendly, cheerful face for a government that is responsible for more deaths than nearly any other in the history of our species,” Cardy said in February.
“And I don’t think, in an education system, that is supposed to be the vehicle that transmits our values to the next generation, [and] that showing we’re open to a government that behaves that way is appropriate.”
Cardy had previously said he wanted to completely close the province’s CIs this year, but Premier Blaine Higgs indicated that, to respect the contract currently in place, the programs would stay until 2022.
The province’s education department has now decided to end the program in elementary and middle schools as well as CI courses on Chinese culture in high schools. The program’s course offering on Chinese language will continue until 2022. The department says the arrangements respect the contract, according to CBC News.
Cardy also told CBC that he has received five complaints from students about certain topics on China being off-limits in CIs.
Last week, the Australian state of New South Wales announced that it is closing its CIs following an internal review launched after ongoing public concern about foreign interference.
In Canada in recent years, CIs have been rejected by the Toronto School Board, McMaster University, and the University of Sherbrooke.
In the United States, over a dozen academic institutions have closed their CIs as the programs have come under increased government scrutiny.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers in 2014 called on all universities and colleges to cut ties with CIs, saying they are “subsidized and supervised by the authoritarian government of China.”
Last year, the National Association of Scholars in the United States made a similar recommendation to U.S. universities, expressing concern about a lack of intellectual freedom and transparency in CIs.