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UMass Boston Group Hoping to Shut Down School’s Chinese Institute

Chinese-run Confucius Institute is accused of promoting censorship and undermining human rights.

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Circa 1770 painting of Chinese philosopher Confucius (Image: The Granger Collection via Wikimedia Commons)

A group that includes UMass Boston students, professors, and alumni are taking aim at their school’s Chinese-run Confucius Institute, accusing it of promoting censorship and undermining human rights initiatives.

The Chinese government runs the center, one of more than 90 on campuses across the U.S. and abroad. The center’s website says its mission is to facilitate “rich, cultural exchange between the U.S. and China in collaboration with educational counterparts in Beijing.”

Those protesting the center’s continued operation on the Boston campus are concerned that an entity controlled by the Chinese government is operating on the campus and that they “use their foothold in prominent academic institutions to influence and steer academic discourse,” according to a letter sent to the school’s interim chancellor.

The Boston Globe reports that the organizer of the objectors said she hopes to persuade the university to shut down the campus institute.

There has been controversy surrounding Confucius Institutes before, including a notable 2009 case at North Carolina State.

China now operates more than 513 institutes worldwide, plus another 1,074 Confucius Classrooms located in primary and secondary schools.

Confucius Institutes are operated at The University of Maryland, William and Mary, the University of Iowa, Michigan State, UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh, among others.

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