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Jun 02

“Communist-inspired” Chinese language teaching

Written by Buxi on Monday, June 2nd, 2008 at 8:32 pm
Filed under:education | Tags:,
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Many Chinese speak of “anti-China” sentiment being behind some of the criticism that China receives.  Many Western critics, in turn, argue that Chinese are being too sensitive.  Articles like this column published in the Vancouver Sun, however, will go to reinforcing the opinion of many Chinese that the West is still gripped by anti-China fervor.

China’s regime offered — and the provincial government last week gratefully accepted — financial assistance for the B.C. Ministry of Education to develop Mandarin and “cultural” courses in our schools. The money is coming through the Beijing-funded Confucius Institute and China’s Chinese Language Council International, also known as Hanban. The dough (the amount is unspecified) will be used to set up Mandarin language courses that will eventually be part of the Grade 10, 11 and 12 official high school curriculum.

If we ask nicely, the Chinese Politburo may be happy to fund some other education and cultural courses for our schoolchildren and our apparently cash-starved public school system.

Maybe Beijing could help us develop a Communist-inspired history course? Let’s get the real poop on Tiananmen Square, for example.

How about a Beijing-sponsored course on political science? Let’s get the regime’s alternative take on those pesky democracy protesters China’s regime throws in jail, and study the wonders of authoritarianism.

..

This gift from China is actually another example of the regime’s attempt to influence the outside world. It’s called soft power and China is using it everywhere, now including B.C.

“At these institutes, Chinese language students will be taught simplified Chinese characters, which are used on the mainland, instead of the classical Chinese characters used by Taiwan. . . Some experts say China is also trying to set itself up as a leader on the world stage, in opposition to the West and the United States.”

If you really want to realize how crazy it is, just turn the tables for a moment. Ask China’s leaders if they’d let us kick in some dollars and come into their schools and create a few made-in-Canada language and cultural courses for their kids.

What do you think the answer would be? ???

The Chinese state press had this follow-up:

“If we don’t interact with the outside world, then they say China sits behind an iron curtain; if we open the door, then they say we’re exporting our values and culture.”  According to one expert tho preferred to remain anonymous, this reflects the hostility behind some in Western countries.  Based on this cold-war rhetoric, the effort China is making to boost international cultural exchange will be stamped with a “China Threat” label.  “This is extremely unfair.”


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13 Responses to ““Communist-inspired” Chinese language teaching”

  1. yo Says:

    “If you really want to realize how crazy it is, just turn the tables for a moment. Ask China’s leaders if they’d let us kick in some dollars and come into their schools and create a few made-in-Canada language and cultural courses for their kids.

    What do you think the answer would be? ???”

    Of course the answer is NO!!, no one wants to learn Canadian culture 🙂 j/k Canadian posters.

    If I was a school superintendent in China and the U.S. would like to give me free money to help my kids learn English, giving my students a huge advantage over other Chinese students…all I want to know is are you mailing the check or wiring the money over?

  2. MutantJedi Says:

    omfg…
    Where does one start… The Vancouver Sun is a tabloid rag that seeks readership via flamebait?

    But I wonder how much his vitriol is meant to be pro-Taiwan.
    http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=102a249d-00eb-4c04-ba0f-9d9fc85a1d68

    He wrote another article over 7 years ago that had a different tone.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/series/awards/2001/rose.html

    I had a hard time getting through his recent article. It was like reading Glenn Beck but not as entertaining.

    I live one province over, Alberta. In Edmonton, while it has won praise for its Chinese program, it is dismally depressing to find Chinese language programs. Thank goodness for the SVCC, which is a volunteer program. (Egads, Cernetig, Hong Kong and Mainland students working together! Impossible!) Frankly, I welcome the new Confucius Institute here in Edmonton… I’ve looked for it but didn’t have much luck finding it. I guess I was looking for the large PRC flag, eh?

    I welcome the Confucius Institutes in Canada. Better understanding of the language, culture and viewpoints (translation for Cernetig: propaganda) of the PRC is vital.

  3. Lei Kong Says:

    I’ll have to admit that Mr. Cernetig just made my day. It has been the most entertaining piece of article I ever read for the past two months. Reading his article, a vivid image comes to my mind, an image of a frighten squirrel jumps up and down, making all kinds of frustrated noise.

    Forgive me making such an offensive reference. Seriously, Cernetig’s article screams with insecurity and fear, even with a hint of desperation. It’s ironic that the western media often accuse Chinese patriots to have excessive insecurity, while the west are just the same if not more.

    “Some experts say China is also trying to set itself up as a leader on the world stage, in opposition to the West and the United States.” So, everything boils down to the west fear of losing world domination, especially when China sits on the “opposite” side. The two worlds diverge where the west strive to maintain their domination, while the Chinese simply aim for prosperity and harmony. It seems the west is having a hard time to get out of their single-minded paradigm of “domination” and the idea of one is either friend or foe. Comprehending the concept of shared prosperity is one the west has to come to accept. In fact, if one day school kids have the opportunities to gain a good understanding of different cultures, to be able to see the world from multiple perspectives, they won’t live in fear construed by misunderstanding or no understanding between nations, although it may mean the worst nightmare comes true for poor Mr. Cernetig.

  4. Nimrod Says:

    If you really want to realize how crazy it is, just turn the tables for a moment. Ask China’s leaders if they’d let us kick in some dollars and come into their schools and create a few made-in-Canada language and cultural courses for their kids.

    What do you think the answer would be????

    I’d like to point out that Tsinghua University, arguably the #1 university in China (and where the President and Premier of China graduated), was basically started by Americans, and was, for a time, known as the Prepatory School for Studying Abroad in America.

    Well, that establishes the author doesn’t know what he is talking about, so I won’t respond to his other rants on being close-minded and insecure about a free exchange of ideas in schools.

  5. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Well, seems like a good idea to me. In many parts of western Canada, this would probably be more practical than learning French. Too bad it’s only in Mandarin, and only with the simplified stuff.
    But again, before people get too worked up, this is one columnist expressing his own opinion. So let’s not attach more relevance than it deserves. It’s like me watching Glenn Beck…I may not agree, but it’s amusing nonetheless.

  6. Anon Says:

    Hmm. The tenor of the article does have problems, but we should be absolutely clear about the fact that it is not without problems to allow a foreign government to pay for the running expenses of an academic institution. In the long run, that may jeopardize academic freedom and make universities think twice before they do anything that may offend the Chinese government (or radical Chinese student associations). As several campus incidents show over the past years, this is no idle discussion. Two years ago, some Chinese students at MIT demanded that faculty teaching Chinese history should consult with the Chinese embassy. At Cornell, an anthropology teacher was recently threatened because she was showed a movie that was “pro-Tibetan”. Now, if universities get too dependent on funds for China, it is legitimate to ask how that would affect the curriculum at those schools. Especially if we are dealing with a country that have very strict limitations on the freedom of speech and academic freedom to begin with.

    I’m not saying that the Confucius Institute is part of an evil plot to subvert academia and let me make clear that the Chinese government sponsorship is not the only threat to academic freedom. But if the Chinese government wants to reassure concerns, they could follow the example of similar institutions institutions in the West, such as the British Council and the Goethe Institute, which give lessons outside of the universities.

  7. Buxi Says:

    I think the reaction amongst some Chinese to this news is interesting. There’s a thread on Tiexue that I was looking at earlier. There’s apparently also another Canadian press report saying the government was monitoring the operation of Confucian Institutes.

    Posters at Tiexue see this as being similar to Chinese controls over the spread of Christian churches. That’s not to say they’re in favor of it, but they understand why the government might regulate it as a way of monitoring “unhealthy” ideals.

  8. Nimrod Says:

    Yes, it occurred to me that the article was mainly about the undue influence of non-taxpayer money in school programs, a serious and also venerable topic, but the China-baiting was unnecessary to make that point.

  9. FOARP Says:

    Here in London we last year had a rather embarassing affair where the now former mayor of London Ken Livingstone (AKA ‘Red Ken’) negotiated with Hugo Chavez’s government to receive free fuel oil for the London bus fleet. This case was embarassing for people in London because A) They can afford the oild much better than the poor people of Venezuela, B) The Venezuelan government is rather unfriendly towards Britain, and C) it was a transparent propaganda ploy. The Chinese government should avoid repeating this mistake.

    Anyway – I would like you to explain what you mean by ‘anti-China’. Are you accusing the author of being a racist? Are you saying that he has a hatred of the Chinese government, the country, or simply Chinese people in general? Do you think the majority of people critical of the Chinese government are motivated by this ‘anti-China’ sentiment? Do you think that organisations like Amnesty, the catholic church etc. are similarly motivated?

  10. Buxi Says:

    FOARP,

    I intentionally put the term “anti-China” in quotes. (Well, at least on the first line. I slipped and forgot on the last line.)

    I don’t think there’s anything that the label can clearly define. I don’t think there’s anyone on this planet who wakes up in the morning wondering how they’re going to destroy China and hurt the Chinese people.

    Here’s my attempt at what the label “anti-China” really means: many Chinese believe that there are people in the West who still seeing China with a very black/white lens, a relic of the Cold War. In their opinion, anything that strengthens China or increases Chinese influence (as long as the Communist Party remains in charge) is a negative that should be opposed.

  11. Nimrod Says:

    Anon wrote:

    Two years ago, some Chinese students at MIT demanded that faculty teaching Chinese history should consult with the Chinese embassy.

    +++++
    Anon, I know some people and don’t think this ever happened. Perhaps you were referring to the incident involving a badly presented site on Japanese woodblock prints at MIT.

  12. shellyuan Says:

    How can we expect someone to be perfect? The Chinese government set up institutions outside to promote understanding and gives the world an opportunity to learn a more open china ,isn’t it good? For my own sake ,I really like Chinese and appreciate to have such a good chance .I used to learn on http://www.hellomandarin.com, but maybe someday this institution will appear in my hometown.

  13. Gina W Says:

    Really Chinese language is inspiring to learn …Great post ..Keep it up.

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