Washington [US], Aug 23 (ANI): Western Universities should shut their Confucius Institutes and end their academic cooperation with China as the country has become "full-blown totalitarianism at home and military expansionism abroad" according to American sociologist and an expert in the areas of Chinese and American economy and society.
In an opinion piece in Foreign Policy, Salvatore Babones, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, said Western universities, who have forged partnerships with China, are now more likely to act as apologists for an illiberal Beijing.
"Rising totalitarianism in China has turned the tables on Western universities: Instead of spearheading the liberalization of China, they are uncomfortably vulnerable to Chinese pressure in the opposite direction," Babones writes.
"As difficult and dismaying it may be for everyone involved to admit it, it's time to cut the cord. As an evil regime gets even worse, at some point engagement becomes no longer acceptable," he adds.
Confucius Institutes are public educational partnerships between colleges and universities in China and colleges and universities in other countries.
China provides the start-up funds, the salaries, the teaching materials, and sometimes even the buildings for Confucius Institutes.
These partnerships have turned into "potential liabilities as professors come under fire for not properly declaring Chinese funding, research grants are linked to human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and universities' technology breakthroughs are being used to improve China's system of mass surveillance. Embarrassing, immoral, and potentially criminal associations are inevitable when universities are so deeply engaged with such a dangerous regime".
Babones says that China has a government that monitors and censors all internal communications, prohibits access to external sources of news and information, arbitrarily detains not only its own citizens but increasingly foreigners as well, severely represses minority cultures in Tibet and Xinjiang, prohibits the free exercise of religion, and routinely threatens its neighbours with military force
Chinese universities have been forced to abandon "freedom of thought" pledges in favour of "Xi Jinping Thought." Chinese campuses of Western universities such as New York University Shanghai have been forced to add compulsory classes in "patriotic education."
Their partnerships with Chinese universities Now that China has tilted toward full-blown totalitarianism at home and military expansionism abroad, the "values transfer" rationale for engagement with China has evaporated.
"China is clearly moving in the wrong direction. Western universities should be careful to ensure that they are not dragged along with it. They should be absolutely determined not to follow voluntarily," Babones says. (ANI)