NSW Government Reviews Confucius Classrooms Program Amid ‘Propaganda’ Concerns
The NSW government has decided to review China’s state-sponsored Confucius Institutes that have been operating in Australian classrooms. The decision comes at a time when the federal government is looking to strengthen its foreign interference laws after reports of interference by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Australian politics was swept into the public eye last year.
On May 8, a spokesmаn for Rob Stokes, the NSW Eduсаtion Minister, told the ABC that the department is now investigating concerns raised over CCP-funded Confucius classrooms program that has been operating in NSW schools, with one main concern being that children are being exposed to propaganda.
The spokesman said, “The Department of Education’s relationship with the Confucius Institute (CI) is currently under review to ensure that there are no inappropriate influences from foreign powers.”
Clive Hamilton, a public ethics professor at Charles Sturt University and a vocal critic of the CCP, has affirmed that Confucius Classrooms are being used to spread the Communist party’s propaganda.
“The objective of the Confucius Classroom is to spread a positive image of Communist Party rule in China. And so anything that might be a negative to detract from Communist Party history in China is whited out, students don’t hear about it,” Hamilton told SBS News.
The Epoch Times has reported extensively on the institute’s agenda. As well as spreading communist propaganda, CIs employ discriminatory hiring practices and have been reported to engage in espionage.
CIs operate via Hanban or the Office of Chinese Language Council International in China, which works directly under the CCP’s Ministry of Education. Teachers who are hired by Hanban lack formal academic freedom and are under pressure to avoid certain topics such as the Tiananmen Square massacre, Tibet, Taiwan, Falun Gong, as well as any criticism of the CCP’s legitimacy, according to the U.S. National Association of Scholars (NAS).
In October 2014, the Toronto District School Board — Canada’s largest school board — terminated its agreement with CIs.
In the lead up to the termination, the Canadian Association of University Teachers issued a statement calling all Canadian universities and colleges to cut ties with the CIs. The American Association of University Professors issued a similar statement warning American universities not to partner with CIs.
In Australia, Confucius Institutes are based in many local schools and universities.
In NSW alone, 13 primary and secondary schools have opened up Confucius Classrooms.
Taiwanese community member Carole Lu, who avoided enrolling her daughter in a school that had a Confucius Classroom, told the ABC, “I’m worried about what kind of culture they are going to teach the children.