Confucius about-face: "Chicago to Close Confucius Institute"

Magnus Fiskesjö's picture

[Editor's Note: H-Asia welcomes discussion, please keep it coming. We can only publish what you send us. -EB]


Hi all, —maybe because it’s so tedious to post things in the new H-net, mostly we see not discussions, but conference announcements etcetera posted on instruction (many thanks for all those, of course!). Yet the posts are still called "discussion posts"  . . . so:

--To connect to the earlier thread regarding the Confucius Institutes scheme, let me point out that there has been a major new development, with the University of Chicago breaking things off, as of yesterday. This is major news.

There is a press release from the university itself: . . it’s somewhat cryptic, but emphasizes that the University in this matter “as always . . . is guided by its core values and faculty leadership in all matters of academic importance.”

As for the significance of the suspension of the CI at U Chicago, read these reports — the first one is especially good as a summary of where things stand now:

"Chicago to Close Confucius Institute"  By Elizabeth Redden. Inside Higher Ed, September 26, 2014.

See too: “Thanks, But No Thanks, University of Chicago Tells Confucius Institute”, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 26, 2014,

And _The Economist_ weighs in, here:, "Confucius Institutes About-face", Sep 26th 2014, 9:53 by G.E.
-- The Economist here links to Sahlins' 2013 piece which marked a watershed of sorts in the global debate ( --and also, to a recent Liberation Daily piece (in Chinese), that offered a not very pretty picture of the Hanban boss supposedly  getting tough with the U Chicago to get it to “get in line” after the faculty protest there earlier this year. It now appears the University has instead chosen to go back to its core values.

Over and out,
Magnus Fiskesjö (once a student at U Chicago, which I always felt/hoped was a very special place),

This is an excerpt from Inside Higher Ed where the full story may be found.
"Another Confucius Institute to Close
October 1, 2014

Pennsylvania State University is the second institution within a week to confirm that it will not be continuing its agreement to host a Confucius Institute, a center for Chinese language and cultural training funded by the Chinese government. In confirming that the university will be ending its Confucius Institute agreement at the end of this year (Dec. 31), the dean of Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts cited goals that are inconsistent with those of Hanban, the Chinese government agency that administers the institutes."


Such steps will of course be impossible for Universities that have given hostages to fortune by investing large amounts in branch campuses etc in the PRC.

Sumit Guha


See also this recent article about the Confucius Institute in Edmonton (CIE).

As the article states, the Edmonton case is an unusual one, not simply in being based in a K-12 school system, but more importantly in the fact that the Chinese-language program in that system was already well-established and the curriculum defined prior to the establishment of the CIE.