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Toronto School District Cancels Plans for Confucius Institute

November 5, 2014

 

Toronto School District Cancels Plans for Confucius Institute

Photo

In early 2011, Hu Jintao, left, who was president of China at the time, visited a Confucius Institute at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago. The program has entered partnerships with hundreds of schools and universities around the world.
In early 2011, Hu Jintao, left, who was president of China at the time, visited a Confucius Institute at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago. The program has entered partnerships with hundreds of schools and universities around the world.Credit Pool photo by Chris Walker

The Toronto District School Board’s vote to cancel plans for a Confucius Institute marks the latest setback for China’s language- and culture-based soft-power initiative.

Canada’s largest school district moved on Wednesday to terminate its agreement with the institute, which would have offered after-school Chinese language and culture classes, over concerns about China’s human rights record and restrictions on academic freedom.

The decision followed months of debate, with groups including Tibetan exiles and members of the Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned in China, arguing that the program be stopped on grounds that it would give the Chinese government undue influence over local education. Others, including members of the local Chinese community, argued in favor of the language-learning opportunities the program would have provided and said politics would not play a part.

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