Canada’s largest school board has opened a Confucius Institute, bringing to Toronto students a controversial global language and cultural outreach effort that is controlled by the Chinese government.
The TDSB is embracing the institute just as several universities are severing their ties with it because of restrictions China has placed on academic discourse and fears of political censorship. The institutes offer language and culture programs subsidized by China’s government. The academic activities are supervised by the Beijing head of the Chinese Language Council International, a state agency commonly known as Hanban.
…The University of Manitoba rejected a Confucius Institute in 2011 over concerns about political censorship. McMaster University in Hamilton shut its institute last summer after a human rights complaint. The Globe and Mail reported that Sonia Zhao, who came to teach at McMaster’s institute in 2011, told the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario her employment contract forced her to hide her belief in Falun Gong, a spiritual movement the Chinese government deems dangerous. The University of Sherbrooke in Quebec announced in December that it was shuttering its institute.