Letter to NSW Education Minister about Confucius Institute
The Hon. Sarah Mitchell MP
Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning
New South Wales
Dear Minister for Education,
We wrote to your predecessor Hon. Rob Stokes MP in May 2018 about the NSW Department of Education’s review on the Chinese government-run language programs in our state schools. We were encouraged to hear Mr Stokes’ media comments about ensuring independence and transparency in the public education system. However, a year on, we are yet to learn about the outcome of the review.
We write to you today to reiterate our grave concerns about the Confucius Institute at the NSW Department of Education, under whose auspices Confucius Classrooms are operated in 13 schools across the state.
We would appreciate the opportunity to share our concerns with the new Education Minister and would like to request a meeting at your earliest convenience. Our coalition includes Australia Tibet Council and the Tibetan community, Chinese human rights activists, Falun Gong practitioners and advocates of academic freedom in the broader Australian community.
As you would have heard, the concerns over the documented risks these Chinese language programs pose to academic freedom has been growing, here in Australia and around the world.
Earlier this year, a US Senate sub-committee report noted that these Chinese government-funded and controlled language programs have acted as tightly controlled propaganda arms for Beijing and that they should be changed or shut down. Over a dozen universities and schools in the US and Canada have closed their Confucius Institute since we last wrote to Minister Stokes. There are also growing calls for the termination of these programs in Europe.
As members of communities directly affected by the repressive Chinese government, we have witnessed how its overseas propaganda efforts have attempted to spread a distorted view of China, control the discourse and silence discussions on Tibet, East Turkestan (Xinjiang,) Taiwan, Hong Kong, Falun Gong, the Tiananmen Square massacre and other uncomfortable truths.
By continuing to host the Confucius Institute, the NSW Department of Education risks being complicit in the propaganda efforts of a repressive foreign government and undermining cherished Australian values of academic freedom and freedom of expression.
In conclusion, we ask your government to shut down China’s Confucius Institute and Confucius Classrooms in our schools.
Thank you for your attention to this vital issue. We look forward to hearing from you.
Executive and Campaigns Officer
Australia Tibet Council
0416 695 590