The first overseas Confucius Institute (CI) was set up in South Korea in 2004. It is a non-profit educational organisation dedicated to the promotion of the Chinese language (Mandarin) and culture. And because their modus operandi is to operate within learning institutions, there are continued criticisms from encroaching on academic freedom to even espionage.
The University of Johannesburg is home to a centre that aims to build better relations between South Africa and China. According to the director of the Confucius Institute David Monyae, relations between the two countries are currently only conducted at a high level. The institute aims to boost relations “people to people”.
Sino-Kenya cooperation in education, arts and culture has blossomed as evidenced by establishment of four Confucius institutes in the country. The Counselor of Chinese Embassy to Kenya Yao Ming said cultural diplomacy is a critical component of a comprehensive cooperative partnership endorsed by President Xi Jinping and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta in 2013. “People to people exchanges have thrived due to establishment of Confucius Institutes in four Kenyan Universities. Understanding Chinese language and culture is an eye opener to Kenyan youth,” Yao remarked.
China’s Confucius Institute, a controversial arm of the Chinese regime’s public diplomacy apparatus, is coming under pressure in Russia, with prosecutors from the city of Blagoveshchensk in the far east of the country calling for the local branch to be closed because it is not properly registered with the authorities.
Officially, the Confucius Institute (CI) is a non-profit educational initiative which partners with schools across the globe to provide Chinese language instruction, scholarships for students to study in China, and to promote greater understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Culture, the Chinese government invested about 1.33 billion yuan ($214 million) by the end of 2014 to build overseas China Cultural Centers and is expected to add another 360 million yuan for developing and running the institutes in 2015. That’s up 181 percent from last year!
Falk Hartig questions China's latest plan for their Confucius Institutes.
In the Japanese government’s new budget, one small item stands out: a $5 million grant to Columbia University in New York to fund a position for a professor of Japanese politics and foreign policy.