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China urges U.S. to abandon prejudice against Confucius Institutes

Time: Jan.17,2012

China has never interfered with academic freedom of Confucius Institutes (CI) in the United States, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday, urging relevant sides to "abandon prejudice."

All class and cultural activities of CI in the United States are open and transparent, Hua said at a routine press briefing, stressing that all CI in the United States were voluntarily applied for by U.S. universities.

In the cooperation between Chinese and U.S. universities, the Chinese side provides assistance on teachers and teaching materials according to requests from the U.S. side, said Hua.

Institutes aim to help foreigners learn the Chinese language, understand Chinese culture, enhance educational and cultural exchanges and promote international friendship, and CI is a bridge of friendship connecting the world with China, according to Hua.

"Confucius Institutes belong to China and the world as well," Hua said, quoting President Xi Jinping's words in September. Hua called on relevant sides to "abandon prejudice" against CI so as to work together to strengthen ties.

In a congratulatory letter for the first Confucius Institute Day and the 10th anniversary of the institutes' establishment, Xi said in September that the institutes have been vigorous in launching Mandarin teaching and cultural communication programs. He added that they have played an important role in the appreciation of world civilizations and in enhancing understanding and friendship between Chinese people and people of other countries over the past 10 years.

The first CI was established in Seoul in 2004. As of October, CI had 471 institutes and another 730 Confucius Classrooms in 125 countries or regions worldwide, including about 100 institutes and 356 classrooms in the United States.

According to an Associated Press report, a U.S. congressional hearing was warned Thursday that China's government is gaining a foothold on American campuses by funding dozens of institutes, compromising the academic integrity of U.S. universities.

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