TTT New Delhi: China has been rattled once again after India-based Confucius Institutes (CI), funded by China’s Ministry of Education, have come under the scrutiny of the Indian intelligence agency following a tip-off that China was trying to globalize its language – and more – through such institutes.

The institutes were gradually becoming a pernicious threat to India’s secular social fabric.

The CIs were also understood to be ‘grooming’ youngsters to become operatives for economic and political espionage.

The Indian government has subsequently sought a review report by next month on the
function of the CIs in seven partnering universities that teach the Mandarin language, also known as ‘Putonghua’, which has now been dropped from the list of foreign languages that can be taught in schools as part of the recently announced education policy.

The reviews are reportedly going to tighten the screws on the CIs which may subsequently be asked to shut down.

China, unable to accept the decision by New Delhi however, has asserted that a review was futile as CIs have existed in India since 2013.

As such, China has decided to rename the CIs ‘Center(s) for Language Education and Cooperation’ after a number of countries in the West including the US, Denmark, Sweden, France and Netherlands also shut the doors on their own CIs.

India, it has said, is now merely following guidelines established in 2009, mandating that all institutions and universities opting to teach Chinese through CIs get appropriate approval from India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

It was in 2010, during a meeting of the two education ministers from India and China, Kapil Sibal and Yuan Guiren, that a desire to increase cultural exchanges including the teaching of the Chinese language first came into being.

An intelligence officer, under condition of anonymity, told The Taiwan Times that these institutes have wrongly interpreted the Indian government as one similar to (their own) ‘dictatorship’.

The IB (intelligence bureau) meanwhile doubts the CIs integrity, which is now seen as an agency actually propagating Chinese ideology rather than enhancing the cultural knowledge of its country.

In this regard it has irked the Indian government.

According to Professor Jennifer Hubbert, who wrote in her book, ‘China in the world: An
Anthropology,’ there were 1742 CIs spread over 140 nations worldwide.

Hubbert also mentioned that her book was inspired by the ‘dearth of actual ethnographic inquiry into the CI classrooms’.

China talks about its soft power goals through CIs but skirts the issues of implementation and its effects.

The programmes taught were gateways for communist propaganda and as such were accused of being espionage ‘outposts’, she said, quoting the general consensus of journalists.

Started as a language school along the lines of Germany’s Goethe Institute, and similar Spanish and French examples, these Institutes, established in a few private universities in India, initially gave the impression of winning the hearts and minds of the students through cultural interactive sessions which would, eventually, pave the way towards understanding China’s ethos better.

But, instead of sticking to teaching Mandarin, the mentors are seen as having gradually brainwashed the minds of attendees (ranging from teenagers to young adults) into believing that China was sermonizing for peace and harmony in the world whilst all the time hiding the fact that its policy has been one of expansionism, both in terms of territory and militarily.

The fire-breathing dragons, the red flag and Chinese (water) torture are some other
topics that psychologically infused fear into the students in the Chinese classrooms of CIs, where it was also prohibited to discuss certain ‘sensitive’ issues such as Tibet, the Dalai Lama, Xinjiang, Taiwan and Tiananmen Square.

Why would that be we must ask?

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