Axios China/Litmus test for Confucius Institutes

Next year is the 30th anniversary of the protests that led to the June 4 crackdown across China. Wang Dan, one of the student leaders, has issued a clever challenge to Confucius Institutes (CIs) in America that is sure to bring more focus on their activities from U.S. authorities.

Buzz: Wang’s new think tank Dialogue China just released this announcement that said Wang will be joined by other key leaders from the historic event to launch:

[A] new initiative to commemorate 1989, titled “Understanding China: A Journey of Uncovering Buried History and Memory,” which will include a national speaking tour, discussion forums, and exhibits,  and will focus on the significance of the events of 1989 in China’s recent history, what it means for China today, and its relevance for China’s future.
As part of this initiative, Dialogue China will reach out to Confucius Institutes across the U.S. to request a forum for discussion about the 1989 pro-democracy movement and its suppression.  In the upcoming weeks, Dialogue China will send letters making this request to Confucius Institutes, beginning with those in the Washington D.C. area (George Washington University, University of Maryland, and George Mason University).

My thought bubble: This kind of talk is likely anathema to CIs and their backers, but rejecting Wang and his team’s discussion will make it impossible to claim any pretense of academic freedom at these institutes. Expect any rejections to trigger even more vigorous attempts from Congress to regulate and/or eliminate CIs embedded inside U.S. academic institutions.



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Dialogue China

Dialogue China