When skeptics concerned about the role and influence of Confucius Institutes on American college campuses began asking pointed questions a few years ago, they had no idea that at the University of Oklahoma the agencies of the oppressive Chinese Communist government were allowed to select the curriculum and the course. material that Oklahoma students were forced to use.
While university officials deny that such an influence took place, it remains unclear why the university would have signed a contract in the first place that ceded control of course material and content to a foreign power. .
The revelation, made recently by the Campus Reform news site, could be the final nail in the coffin of the former OU Confucius Institute, which closed in OU in the fall of 2020.
“A request for public records revealed that the University of Oklahoma had let Peking Normal University choose the program for its Confucius Institute,” Ben Zeisloft, student editor at Campus Reform, reported in an article. November 18. The contract that established the OU Confucius Institute required Beijing Normal to provide $ 100,000 in seed funding, 3,000 books and other program items, and “one or two” Chinese instructors, Campus Reform reported.
This first letter of intent between OU and Hanban, the Chinese government agency that oversaw Confucius Institutes on dozens of American campuses, dated 2006, and a subsequent letter signed by then-president David Boren, engaged, among other things, educational exchange and cooperation.
Rachelle Peterson, a senior researcher at the National Association of Scholars who has done extensive research on Confucius Institutes, noted that âit was common for the Hanban to post textbooks and have a veto over programs and courses. courses offered by CI. It wouldn’t surprise me if a Chinese university had similar authority.
Nationwide Confucius Institutes have been criticized as hotbeds of espionage and places for the dissemination of Chinese government propaganda. Chinese students studying in America would also be subject to the supervision of professors and staff at the Confucius Institute. The attempt to brainwash the students was so blatant that professors at the Confucius Institute sought to deny or downplay the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre of pro-democracy student protesters.
The relationship between the OU and Chinese government agencies sponsoring the Confucius Institutes has always been murky. When OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism asked about funding connections in 2020, we were told these dollars flowed through the OU Foundation, which did not have to report donations.
After US Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) And other members of Congress began asking pointed questions about the Confucius Institutes, OU finally decided to shut down his institute. However, there is no guarantee that such programs will not be recreated.
OU’s media relations office was emailed to comment on this story, and specifically if there were any other academic programs at the university where outside agencies were allowed to dictate the program.
Mackenzie Scheer, director of media relations at OU, denied that foreign sources controlled the Confucius Institute program. “Although authorized by contract, the OU Confucius Institute did not offer or support any university courses,” she said. “As such, it had no impact on the University’s curriculum.”