Confucius Institutes are a key plank of the Chinese Communist Party’s global soft power effort. In South Australia, we have one Confucius Institute at the University of Adelaide, two Confucius Classrooms in our state’s public schools (Salisbury High and Plympton International College), and one Confucius Classroom in the private sector at Christian Brothers College. There are 14 Confucius Institutes in Australian universities and 67 Confucius Classrooms in Australian schools.
Today we have heard the startling revelations that Australian universities hosting Chinese government-funded ‘Confucius Institute’ (CI) education centres have signed agreements explicitly stating they must comply with Beijing’s decision-making authority over teaching at the facilities. The exposed contracts between many Australian universities typically show agreements binding them to accept Chinese government authority through Hanban, the Beijing body that funds and oversees the global network of Confucius Institutes. Adelaide Universities was one of the few Australian Universities that refused to even reveal their contractual arrangement for the funding of their Confucius Institute. The NSW Education department has currently suspended any new Confucius Classrooms and placed the scheme placed under review.
The SA Greens have demanded that Adelaide University release the details of their contract with the controversial Confucius Institute.
The following quotes are attributable to Tammy Franks:
“Today’s revelation confirms the suspicions I have previously raised in parliament. That the contracts for Confucius Classrooms and Confucius Institutes so far seem to be replicated exactly and precisely around the world, so it would be naive to consider that what occurred elsewhere is not also occurring here, and what is happening interstate and overseas is not acceptable for anyone who cares about academic integrity.
“This is not good enough from the University of Adelaide to refuse discourse of their CI contract. The South Australian community have the right to know whether Confucius Institutes are compromising academic integrity in one of our state’s premier educational institutions.
“For those Confucius Classrooms, South Australia should show the same level of scrutiny that the New South Wales education department has shown.
“Our educational institutions should be safeguarding academic freedom and autonomy, not selling it off to the highest bidder.
“International programs, links, and institutions are important and valuable, but our engagement with entities such as Confucius Institutes cannot take happen at the cost of academic freedom and autonomy.