The University of North Florida (UNF) announced today that as of February 2019 the Confucius Institute will stop teaching Mandarin and hold events considering that its activities “are not aligned” with the “objectives” of this academic institution.
“After careful consideration by Academic and Student Affairs, the University has decided to begin the contract termination process with the Confucius Institute of China and the Normal University of Shanghai,” the UNF said in a statement.
It is the second university in Florida where the Confucius Institute, essentially dedicated to teaching Mandarin, closes its doors.
Last February the University of the West of Florida (UWF) announced that it would not renew its agreements with the Confucius Institute because of the “lack of interest of the students in its programs”.
The UNF began its collaboration with the Confucius Institute in 2014 with the purpose of “providing Chinese language and culture programs”, but the educational institution understands that the “classes, activities and events sponsored in recent years are not alienated with the objectives of University”.
Behind these closings of the Confucius Institute is the suspicion that its wide educational network serves the political interests of the Chinese communist regime, that is, as a propaganda weapon.
In the United States, a study by the professor of the University of Chicago Marshall Sahlins, one of the greatest critics of the Confucius center, described them in 2013 as “viruses” of the Chinese government to enter universities around the world.
This vast Chinese educational network has about a hundred Confucius institutes in the United States.
Among the critics of the Confucius Institute is the Republican senator from Florida Marco Rubio, who argues that this educational network presents a “risk of espionage and threatens academic freedom,” according to local media.