Journalists investigate Chinese "soft power" in Baltic states

The investigative journalism group Re:Baltica in its latest report has turned its attention towards China and in particular the use of the Chinese state-run "Confucius Institute" cultural centers as "soft power" tools.

Baltic politicians recount the ire of Chinese diplomats whenever the subject of Tibet crops up, and especially when the Dalai Lama brings his regular roadshow to the Baltic.

The account also reveals the rules governing the three Confucius Institutes in the Baltic countries.

"In each Baltic country, only the director of the institute and the secretary are hired and funded by the local universities. Teachers are chosen, hired and paid by Hanban, a non-profit government organisation under China’s Education Ministry promoting Chinese language instruction around the world," explains Re:Baltica.

"A student of the Confucius Institute at the University of Latvia, who did not want to be named, confirmed to Re:Baltica that teachers evaded questions about the sensitive political topics of China’s history. For example, when the student was interested in how and why Hong Kong’s administration model differed from China’s, the teacher said it did not relate to the study topic and, with that, the question was closed."

Latvia’s security services have been keeping an eye on the Confucius Institute for several years, the report says.

“The goals declared by the Confucius Institute are lofty, however, its operation is related with intelligence risks,” the State Security Service told Re:Baltica. “Goals of its operation include not only popularizing China in foreign countries, but also disseminating ideological messages favorable to China’s Communist party among academics, ambassadors of culture and entrepreneurs.”

As previously reported by LSM last year, the Confucius Institutes are also getting involved in Latvian schools.

The full story is available at the Re:Baltica website or by following the link below.

 

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