The CCP’s reason behind establishing the Confucius Institute was merely to use Confucius’s name and his advocacy of moral and ethics norms to make itself look good, all the while suppressing freedom of ideas, consolidating political power internally, and controlling speech externally.
This behaviour is further intensified by fifth-generation leader Xi Jinping, who came to power in 2012. The Beijing regime has become increasingly authoritarian, including increasing levels of ideological indoctrination and control. The original “soft power” intent of spreading language and culture through Confucius Institutes was transformed into what the National Endowment for Democracy called “sharp power” at the end of 2017.
Thus, instead of using China’s language and culture to win hearts and minds of other countries through attraction and persuasion, the CCP spies on specific countries and engages in unlawful subversive activities. Not only does it openly infringe on the academic freedom of other countries’ higher education through cultural means—triggering the closure of many Confucius Institutes in the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Sweden, and other countries—but it also blatantly uses inducement, financial aid, pressure, intimidation, and other such methods to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries with the purpose of suppressing speech and manipulating ideology abroad, especially that of Chinese expatriates.
The exit of Confucius Institutes on American campuses signifies the beginning of the gradual recovery of teachers teaching authentic Chinese all over the world to participate in and support the learning of traditional Chinese with practical actions. Taiwan possesses three distinct advantages in this regard: the preservation of traditional Chinese culture, the use of Chinese as the official language, and a free and democratic system.
In the United States alone, there are 365 weekend traditional Chinese schools and 7,155 Chinese teachers, who can instruct more than 400,000 students in a timely manner. The Taiwanese teachers in overseas Chinese schools in various countries can also share teaching skills and learning experiences. In addition, Taiwan offers quite a wealth of digital learning platforms, high-quality Chinese textbooks, various long- and short-term Chinese classes, as well as international exchanges and competitions, which can satisfy Chinese language and culture lovers of different learning levels and needs.
Countries around the world have the right to promote their culture, values, political ideals, and foreign policies so long as they do so through internationally accepted means of open engagement and persuasion, what is often referred to as “soft power” or “public diplomacy.” As early as 1883, France created the Alliance Francaise, and later there was the British Council, Germany’s Goethe-Institut, and so on.; Taiwan also set up the Taiwan Academy in 2011. Recently, members of Congress have even proposed a “Formosa Academy” or “Formosa Center,” whose main purpose would be to encourage Chinese schools in the United States and around the world to teach traditional Chinese characters and authentic Chinese culture.
At a time when the CCP’s Confucius Institutes are gradually leaving the scene in various countries, it opens the door for the transition of Chinese schools to become community Chinese-language learning centres, encourage teachers of overseas Chinese schools to earn credit and teach in primary and secondary schools of the host countries, and promote industrial co-operation between overseas Chinese schools and Taiwan Chinese-language teaching institutions. All these will demonstrate the spirit and practical action of “Taiwan can help” in Chinese learning!