Confucius Institute closes after sixteen years at Troy

by Caleb Thomas

Amidst political concerns with the Communist Party of China, Troy University has closed its Confucius Institute, which was situated in John Robert Lewis Hall. 

The Confucius Institute provided cultural and linguistic exploration opportunities to Troy University students and showcased China’s cultural identity, but closed for good on March 1 after a vote by the Board of Trustees.

The closure was due in part to the U.S. Government’s National Defense Authorization Act, placed into effect in 2021, which threatened to pull defense funding for any universities that still had Confucius Institutes on their campus by October 2023. This comes after concerns from the U.S. Government that China is using Confucius Institutes to surveil other countries. 

“In the past three to five years, tensions between China and the U.S. have certainly increased,” said Michael Guo-Brennan, an associate professor in the political science department. “Since President Xi [Jinping] took over, China has grown as an economy and is a genuine competitor with the U.S.”

China’s growth as an economy and as a military have prompted action from the U.S. Government, leading them to release this statement when discussing Confucius Institutes:

“I strongly urge the Biden Administration to stick to its promises to prioritize the CCP as our main national security challenge, including in the American education system,” U.S. Representative and chairman of the House of Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, said in a 2021 Foreign Affairs Committee press release.

At the Troy University Confucius Institute, there were two full-time employees and a student employee who will be moved into different jobs, according to Troy Today. 

In that same article in Troy Today, Dr. Lance Tatum, the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, said the closure of the Confucius Institute will not impact Troy University’s recruitment of Chinese students in any way.

Guo-Brennan acknowledges the previous benefits of the Confucius Institute at Troy University while also talking about how things have changed over the past decade. 

“At first, [the Confucius Institutes] promoted cultural exchange and understanding between the two governments and cultures, and I think that was a good thing,” said Guo-Brennan. “But in the last five or ten years, China has become economically and militarily strong and is competing with the U.S. rather than being more cooperative.”

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