When Soft Power is Too Soft: Confucius Institutes’ Nebulous Role in China’s Soft Power Initiative

“Henry Kissinger once told me that he believed that ancient Chinese thought was more likely than any foreign ideology to become the dominant intellectual force behind Chinese foreign policy.” – Yan Xuetong[1]

On October 18th, 2011, the seventeenth Central Committee of the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China emerged from their weeklong plenary session to announce the political, social, and economic priorities that policymakers deemed most important in determining the direction of China’s development.[2] Instead of a much expected address on social ills such as growing economic inequality or an unsteady real estate market, the Committee’s top initiative was a resolution to develop and promote “China’s cultural system” both at home and abroad. An editorial run in the People’s Daily, the Party-controlled newspaper, explained the initiative in terms of national interest, stating, “Now the status and influence of culture in national power competition is more prominent, thus making it a mission more arduous and critical to guard national cultural security and to boost national soft power and Chinese culture’s international influence.”[3][4]

With China’s designation of cultural promotion as its method of increasing soft power abroad, the question must be asked, which culture will they be promoting? Given the violent history that exists between the Chinese Communist Party and Confucianism – an oft-used representative of traditional Chinese culture[5] – it would seem unlikely that the promotion of “traditional” culture is what the CCP had in mind. However, their stance on Chinese culture has been surprisingly complex. While official press releases have yet to associate Confucius with the recently announced initiative, the announcement itself comes after a succession of moves by the CCP to use the image of Confucius for their own policy agenda. Just two weeks prior to the announcement, the Shandong provincial government began airing a thirty-second video in Times Square, New York, introducing Confucius and the many attractions of his home province to foreign onlookers.[6] More importantly the CCP has been escalating efforts to establish Confucius Institutes around the world . These institutes, while downplayed by administrators as forums for cultural exchange, have been touted by government officials as channels of cultural influence that will contribute to the increase of China’s soft power.[7][8] The CCP’s use of Confucius in global media campaigns corroborates the idea that Confucius is being designated as the official vehicle of China’s international soft power campaign. The prominence that they have given Confucius Institutes in particular suggests that the government has abandoned its traditional anti-Confucian rhetoric, and now finds Confucius more useful than harmful to their national objectives.

Since the opening of the first Confucius Institute in 2004, China’s Confucius Institute initiative – modeled after similar cultural initiatives by France and Germany – has taken off faster than even the Chinese government was expecting.[9] Given China’s ever-growing prominence on the international stage, students and institutions alike are eager to welcome Confucius Institutes into their communities either by studying Mandarin Chinese or offering to host one of the Institutes. Although such efforts have been ongoing since 2004, the CCP’s recent policy announcement may potentially redefine the Confucius Institute in more political terms. Are these institutes suitable vehicles for the expansion of Chinese soft power? The answer will depend on how the Confucius Institutes move forward from this point. I believe the Confucius Institutes have been effective at expanding China’s network of relationships, but in terms cultivating cultural soft power, they have yet to offer anything to substantiate their nominal use of Confucius as a representative of Chinese culture. To pursue its new ambitions more effectively,  China needs to decide to what extent it will include Confucianism in its promotion of Chinese culture abroad. Its decision should stem from deep reflection on the nature of Confucianism at home, and the ability of Confucian values to attract audiences abroad. The CCP can begin the process of introspection by considering several small, independent schools, known as Confucius Academies, that are striving quietly to revitalize the traditional Confucian culture nearly destroyed during the tumult of the twentieth century. Their level of success will serve as early indicators for the attractiveness of traditional Confucian culture in a modern setting. With that said, we shall begin our examination of the issue with two basic questions: what does the CCP mean when it says “soft power,” and why use Confucius Institutes to spread it?

Joseph Nye, the political scientist who coined the term “soft power,” defines it as “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payment.”[10] Nye presents several avenues in which soft power can be used, including diplomatic, economic, and cultural. The Chinese government has already focused on economics for several decades; now as the second largest economy in the world, they have concluded that cultural soft power is one of the critical remaining barriers to international dominance.[11] The communiqué released by the CCP after the October 2011 meeting stated a need to “boost its ‘cultural soft power,’” and to reverse a “deficit in global cultural exchanges.”[12] They are now placing a premium on exporting China’s cultural brand to the world in the hopes that the greater number people fluent in Chinese, the greater number of connections that can be establish with China and its citizens. If the government can attract foreigners to Chinese culture it will have a more direct influence internationally. Attraction is a crucial component of soft power, and it is the key element, either missing or present, to the following case studies. But before we begin, we should consider the Chinese national government’s motivation in sanctioning the name of Confucius for use as the chief national representative of China in communities around the world.

The simplest reason for Confucius’ cultural dominance is also the most powerful: Confucius carries the highest currency in Chinese name recognition around the world. In the East Asian theater, the character name for Confucius is widely recognized, as is the Romanized version in the West. Confucius “is the figure nearest to a global brand from traditional Chinese history.”[13] Moreover, the use of Confucius as a frame for Chinese culture has a long history that demonstrates his versatility as an ideological representative. Whatever course Party policymakers decide to take in the future, they can easily find ways to utilize Confucian teachings – such as a strongly advocated respect for authority figures and emphasis on harmony among people – to their advantage.[14] At the very least, they can appropriate his words and use them as a legitimizing force behind various initiatives and efforts to control the people, such as Jiang Zemin’s inaccurate use of “moderately well-off society” as a state to be worked towards instead of away from, and Hu Jintao’s use of “harmonious society” to justify actions taken by the government to enforce harmony instead of foster it. Confucius is simply an empty frame; people of all motivations can use this frame to structure their interpretations of the world through him and his works. In recent years, the Chinese government has elected to use Confucius to “charm” outsiders by invoking him as China’s most well known figure. The fact that Westerners are less likely to associate a “Confucius” Institute with a government initiative, particularly an authoritarian government initiative, is an added bonus.[15] The sage that was once regarded as the foundation of Chinese societal structure is being cast once again as a China’s chief cultural representative, a role he has not been authorized to play since the days before the May Fourth Movement of 1919.

Before the May Fourth Movement and the broader New Culture Movement swept people up in its revolutionary rhetoric, Confucianism was the principle vehicle of political, social and cultural expression. While particular schools of Confucian thought would go in and out of vogue, basic tenets such as his Five Constant Regulations[16] remained a vital part of China’s cultural core, with concepts such as filial piety and proper gentlemanly education permeating different sectors of society.

Confucian was subsequently sidelined, first by young intellectuals of the May Fourth movement like Lu Xun, who deemed it feudalistic and autocratic, and later by Communist regime in its early days, as part of Mao’s repudiation of all traditional culture. It was not until the mid-1980s when the renewed interest in Confucianism was absorbed and reappropriated into the state ideology, partly prompted by the economic success of the Four Mini-Dragons, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore, which showed the compatibility between traditional East Asian values and modernization.

The shift in Party rhetoric from revolution and state production towards a harmonious society in the late 1980s introduced Confucian concepts such as “harmony” and “moderate prosperity” into the Party lexicon. On Confucius’s birthday in 1989, Jiang Zemin made what was called an “unprecedented personal appearance” at the event and shared his own recollections of growing up in a Confucian household, establishing harmony as a de facto, if not a de jure, part of Party policy.[17] The CCP, in a complete paradigmatic shift, was using Confucius’ “autocratic” language to describe its official stance in reforming China’s socialist system. After a decades-long hiatus, Confucius’ teachings had finally found their way back into politics.

This phenomenon can be observed through a casual investigation of the Party’s official paper, the People’s Daily, and the number of articles that contained references to “Confucius”.

After generations of vilifying Confucius and the philosophy he spawned, the CCP had the unenviable task of explaining how China’s most high-profile traditionalist could have reemerged to become the spokesperson for a socialist agenda..  The appropriation of Confucian thought reveals its diverse nature to represent ideas of different nature, but also suggest that the ideology’s openness to interpretation could pose a problem in using Confucianism for consolidating soft-power.

The Confucius Institutes

What, exactly, is a Confucius Institute (CI)? According to their official website, Confucius Institutes are “non-profit public institutions which aim to promote Chinese language and culture… in foreign primary schools, secondary schools, communities and enterprises.”[18] They are run under the auspices of the Chinese International Language Council Office, commonly called the Hanban, which itself is part of the Chinese Ministry of Education. To date, the Hanban has opened over three hundred CIs around the world,[19] with plans for more in the future. These CIs typically partner with universities or other educational institutions through which they can offer language teaching services, sometimes specializing in the language needed to function in a particular industry. For example, the Confucius Institute at the London School of Economics focuses almost exclusively on business Chinese.[20] Institutes also have a special relationship with one or more universities in China from which they will recruit their Chinese teachers. In terms of funding, CIs are separated into three categories: those that are funded exclusively by Beijing headquarters, those that are funded jointly by Beijing and the host institution, and those that are funded exclusively through the host institution, but licensed by Beijing to operate under the name of Kongzi Xueyuan, or Confucius Institute.[21] These institutes hope to foster more cultural understanding between China and their host countries, which is why many CIs are located in areas where the presence of Chinese culture has traditionally been weak, such as Lincoln, Nebraska.

A small city with low ethnic diversity, Lincoln is a clear example of the kind of community in which one Confucius Institute can have a tremendous impact on Chinese cultural awareness. The Confucius Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) was established in 2007 as the twentieth such institute in the United States. Supported by start-up funds from Hanban, it not only adheres to the common mission laid out by the Hanban, but also a region-specific mission to promote both Chinese language classes and Chinese cultural awareness in Lincoln and the greater Nebraska area, says Executive Assistant Director Dr. Rachel Zeng. To that end, the Institute offers non-credit language courses to students and the community. Close ties between language and culture is fostered through classes such as, “Chinese Poems and Composition I for Children,” taught by qualified Chinese language teachers from Xi’an Jiaotong University. In addition, the CI hosts cultural activities such as a Chinese Speech competition, Ping Pong tournament and Fall Moon Festival, which has fostered growth of a Chinese presence in the public sphere.

The Problem

The strength and variety of CI initiatives in Lincoln suggest that China’s soft power promotion is already meeting with success. However, significant criticisms still threaten to undermine the Confucius Institutes’ efforts, including an accusation that the Chinese government is pushing a political agenda. Whether or not that is the case, UNL Confucius Institute director David Lou made clear in an interview with USA Today that the Hanban has played no role in creating CI programs, and that it has never made an attempt to direct the CI in how to carry out its mission.[22] Ironically, Mr. Lou’s effort to stay criticisms of excessive government supervision has the potential to rouse concern in the opposite direction. If neither the Hanban nor any other overseeing entity is providing the world’s three-hundred odd CIs with direction, then little is stopping the CIs from wandering astray of their mission.

Confucius Institutes were established with the understanding that individual CI administrators would have full control over the actual implementation of their stated purpose, with no interference from government backers. Even as the Central Committee has been clear in its agenda to promote Chinese soft power around the world through cultural means, the Hanban has emphatically denied any desire to do the same. It claims a desire only for the rest of the world to understand China.[23] While the Hanban initially had guidelines for the way in which CIs would achieve this goal, partner schools apparently “pushed back” against restrictions to the point that the Hanban now allows “a lot of flexibility” for individual CIs to set their own agendas.[24] However, this lack of rigidity has led to an identity crisis for the Confucius Institute initiative. Near-autonomous CIs are all approaching their general mission – increased Chinese cultural understanding – from dissimilar positions. For example, in a speech delivered at the unveiling of the Confucius Institute at the University of Southampton, the Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom tied Chinese culture directly to Confucian philosophy, yet the Hanban has very explicitly and purposefully stated its avoidance of Confucianism. Official CCP press releases also seem contradictory. An article on Confucius Institutes released by the official press of the CCP’s Central Committee, Qiushi, described the CI phenomenon in these words: “There’s not a gray hair to be found on the face of Confucius today. His modern visage is young, usually twenty-something, and numbers in the thousands. They are the bright-eyed legion of Hanban, the nonprofit public agency that administers the Confucius Institutes worldwide.”[25] Yet an editorial run in Qiushi a few months later condemned the use of Confucius to promote soft power, advocating instead the use of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Meanwhile, the Chinese administration has yet to utilize either approach to substantiate the Institutes’ ostensible mission of cultural understanding, making the spread of soft power all but impossible. As stated by Nye, the mechanism of soft power is attraction. A culture and value system must be attractive to outsiders in order for soft power to be exercised. The Confucius Institutes, while offering Chinese language and fine arts classes, have yet to offer any values of Chinese culture that foreigners might find appealing. Without being made aware of China’s cultural values, foreigners can continue to nurse their own perceptions of China regardless of the CIs’ efforts. For example, students in American CI classrooms could continue to view China negatively as an aggressive, autocratic state, even as they advance their Mandarin skills. James Paradise is of a similar view, claiming, “China lacks some of the crucial elements of soft power, such as the attractiveness of its political values.”[26] Given, China’s political values are unlikely to change in the near future; however, this fact simply reinforces China’s need to find attractive cultural values in lieu of political values to promote abroad. Without a message based in values, the Confucius Institutes are left with a cultural currency whose greatest worth extends to writing characters and singing children’s songs.

The Solution, and Another Problem

What should the Confucius Institutes do, then, to achieve their institutional mission of cultural understanding while contributing to the government’s mission of increased global soft power?[27] Simply put, they should begin to promote a more substantive cultural image, particularly in relation to Confucianism. Many Chinese cultural values are grounded in Confucianism, and many of these values have the potential to attract foreign audiences. However, before the “bright-eyed legion of Hanban” can begin promoting Confucian values abroad, it must remember to practice its stated values at home. Confucianism’s return to mainstream discussion is still relatively recent, and adds a complicated dimension to an already complicated society undergoing massive social and economic change. These changes have left Chinese society with a perceived moral vacuum in the present day,[28] one that some argue should be filled with a full return to Confucian values.[29]  Xiao Gongqin, a foremost leader of the Confucian neoconservative movement of the 1990s, explained the importance of such an effort as follows:

“Confucianism is the mainstream cultural form in traditional China… Because mainstream culture is the basis of identity for a country’s political and intellectual elites and general public, it would be significant for the national coherence and the formation of a national consciousness… With the insertion of the traditional mainstream culture, the Chinese ‘mental world’ would be further enriched and full of warm passion.”[30]

For Xiao, the key to becoming a more secure China is becoming a more Confucian China. However his words, by virtue of what they do not cover, speak volumes to the problems facing such an agenda. Even while offering Confucianism as a mainstream ideology, Xiao Gongqin did not address what the word “Confucianism” really meant. This ambiguity among New Confucians has evolved once again into a turf war in which scholars each clamor for their own interpretation of Confucian teachings. The most notable of these scholars, at least by popular standard, is a Yu Dan, a trendy Confucian professor at Beijing Normal University whose televised talks on her interpretation of Confucius’ Analects became a national phenomenon. Her informal, highly anecdotal take on the Analects as a guide to living a happy life has garnered her a burgeoning fan base in China,[31] while earning her an entire appendix of scathing comments in Daniel Bell’s 2008 book China’s New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society.[32] These academic battles over Confucianism are part of a larger effort to redefine China’s moral center in the public and private realm.[33] For China to succeed in increasing its soft power abroad, it must reinforce its soft power at home. One way of doing so is by committing resource to greater domestic awareness of the single greatest source of China’s cultural values.  China’s private Confucius Academies aim to achieve that very objective.

The Confucius Academies

The Confucius Institutes – dedicated to “spreading cultural understanding” – are found exclusively in foreign locales. Within China, however, an interest in reviving cultural understanding of Confucianism and Chinese traditional values has led some cultural entrepreneurs to create a new market: Confucius Academies. Confucius Academies, like the Confucius Institutes, have only become a presence in the past ten years.[34] In fact, while their existence is often mentioned in literature on the Confucius Institutes, these smaller, independent academies have yet to be given the same rigorous academic treatment as that given to the CIs. Each academy is a stand-alone operation run by an independent agent, and while different agencies will collaborate with each other on addressing general issues, there is no collective governing body. However, the vast majority of these institutions promote a similar mission: revitalizing traditional Confucian culture by educating China’s current young generation in the teachings and practices of Confucius and his followers. These academies typically employ memorization of Confucius’ texts, in the spirit of gentlemanly scholarship, as their primary method of traditional education. While children may not understand the words they recite at the time, academy administrators hope that they will recall Confucius’ writings as they grow older and realize his relevance to modern life.[35] However these academies do not stop at teaching texts alone. In their quest to make Confucius relevant once again, they also educate the children on how to live a proper Confucian life, and encourage the children to live out the embodiment of Confucian ideals. Lessons in deportment are common, propriety is heavily emphasized, and traditional subjects such as calligraphy, Chinese medicine and instrumentation are all given significant attention.[36] The academies have become laboratories of traditionalism in which private administrations can experiment with their teachings to find the most effective methods for reviving the cultural heritage many believe was lost in the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

In order to gain a deeper understanding of the functionality of these Confucius Academies, and to see if they offer a potential solution to China’s potential identity crisis, I will focus on one of the largest academies to date, the Four Seas Confucius Academy (Sihai Kongzi Shuyuan) in Beijing, China, both because of my time spent there and the impact it has made in the traditional culture industry. After a brief explanation of their operations in specific, I will examine how each institution goes about its purpose of increased cultural awareness, and to what end.

The Sihai Confucius Academy is one of the most well-recognized and well-respected institutions of its type within the People’s Republic of China, with the support of both contemporary Confucianism advocates and high-ranking government officials. Opened in 2006, it was what one Academy administrator called the “natural next step” in the development of a line of Confucian textbooks aimed at teaching children how to read Confucius’ canonical texts.[37]  Students enter the Academy at age three and remain until age fourteen, leaving the compound only on weekends and holiday breaks. They memorize main Confucian texts such as the Four Books (si shu), Yellow Emperor’s Medical Canon (huangdi nei jing), Classic of Rites (liji), and the Three Character Classics (san zi jing), and are also expected to be proficient in calligraphy, Tai Chi, and playing the guqin.[38]

The Sihai Confucius Academy has achieved a relatively high level of recognition among party elites and intellectuals alike. Students are often asked to attend Party events and recite passages from the Four Books and other well-known works. Leaders in the fields of Confucianism and traditional Chinese culture often accept invitations to the Academy to lecture on topics such as Chinese traditional medicine, the religious significance of Confucianism, and challenges of translating and teaching Confucianism to foreign audiences. The Academy’s ability to achieve such distinction within ten years of its establishment suggests a cultural shift may be underway in which Chinese are increasingly respectful of their Confucian heritage. More importantly, the Academy’s success hints at the potential of such private enterprises to create a more organic cultural soft power campaign. 

The Future Potential for Chinese Soft Power

The fundamental challenge to the Chinese Communist Party’s cultural soft power initiative, as highlighted by the success of a similar private sector endeavor, is one of identity. Without presenting a substantial cultural identity, the CCP and its affiliate Confucius Institutes will be crippled in their attempts to communicate the appeal of Chinese culture to the world. Back in Lincoln, Nebraska, the president of the city’s Chinese community organization has already expressed her doubts about the effectiveness of the UNL Confucius Institute in promoting Chinese culture in the Lincoln community. Her doubts are directed at the CI’s lack of publicity, its lack of effective cultural promotion, and most importantly, of the absence of a coherent cultural image. In an interview, she also opined that Chinese domestic support for the initiative was low, as the general public views the CI project as a waste of resources. Therefore, the CCP is in a compromising position of having to promote the Confucius Institutes on two fronts: at home and abroad.

Confucius Academies, on the other hand, have enjoyed increasing popularity in China. Their conservative interpretation of Confucian texts – for example, affiliates of the Sihai Confucius Academy are vegetarian due to Confucius’ professed respect for animals – has steadily gained admiration, support and imitation throughout the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China.[39] Since they operate outside the auspices of the national government, these academies have been able to transform into laboratories of Chinese cultural development, testing out new models of cultural education in almost all of the country’s provinces. If the CCP aims to attract foreign audiences to Confucian values, then it should take note of these academies and the cultural education models they employ. By studying and adopting the most successful of these local models, the government will not be nationalizing China’s cultural value system; instead it will serve as a middleman, channeling Chinese culture and values from a grassroots to an international level. While this method is not the CCP’s modus operandi, deviating from standard procedure here stands to benefit national objectives and foster greater domestic support of an international program. Once the government adopts this ‘middleman’ mentality, it can begin to disseminate a more authentic Chinese cultural vision to the rest of the world.

Admittedly, the programs that have been successful within China will not necessarily translate well to foreign audiences. Pupils of local academies have almost all been steeped in Chinese culture since birth, while pupils of Confucius Institutes are usually being exposed to China for the first time. To bridge this gap in cultural knowledge, Confucius Institutes will have to expand their class offerings and provide foreign audiences with supplemental knowledge about the general foundations of Chinese culture.[40] To teach lessons similar to those found at Confucius Academies, they must become Confucius Institutes in full, educating foreign audiences about history and development of Confucianism within the greater narrative of Chinese history. They can offer classes on classic Confucian texts such as The Analects, as well as classes on recent classics such as Cao Xueqin’s Dream of the Red Chamber. By teaching their students about the foundations of Chinese culture, the CIs will help students achieve understanding, which may more easily turn into attraction.

CIs should also be ready to expand beyond their namesake to other traditional avenues of soft power, such as the fine arts. While some Confucius Institutes have hosted open houses for local Chinese artists’ works[41] or state-sponsored photograph exhibitions[42],this practice tends to be the exception rather than the norm. The CIs already have ideal partners for fine arts promotion in their affiliate Chinese universities. They should be channeling university works in the fine arts to their respective communities for exhibition, again acting as middlemen for the exportation of Chinese culture to the rest of the world. Confucius Institutes should also try to work in tandem with the rest of the CCP’s cultural initiatives; they can complement recent government investments in the Chinese film and television industries by screening Chinese films for their host communities. Even such lighthearted events as Chinese karaoke competitions should be taken seriously as viable methods of soft power promotion.

Confucius Institutes face at least one more hurdle in its quest to promote Chinese values: international acceptance. The spread of CIs has already proven itself sustainable; there are over 260 universities and institutions awaiting approval to open their own Confucius Institute.[43] However, if the Confucius Academies begin to offer lessons in Chinese culture and values, they risk entering politically sensitive territory. CIs that teach such unthreatening lessons as Mandarin Chinese and calligraphy are slowly encountering greater feelings of unease among the many potential partners they have approached.[44] CIs that begin teaching a culture that may not align with native values are even more likely to meet with resistance. After all, the new cultural promotion initiative is itself a threat to other states – with increased cultural appeal comes the potential for increased international leverage. Why then would I, an American, suggest ways for China to strengthen its cultural soft power initiative?

The Confucius Institutes may prepare the world to be more attracted to China, but they will also prepare the world to be more challenging of China. By enhancing global understanding of Chinese culture, CIs are giving members of the global community a more informed standpoint from which to deal with China in areas such as diplomacy, military, business, and humanitarian aid. In a best case scenario for the United States, the international community might also observe both national cultures, and find that the values of the United States to be more attractive than those of China – a judgment that could mitigate China’s rise in global might. The success of the CIs also has the potential to spur greater cultural activism at home, contributing to a stronger Chinese civil society and a potentially weaker central government.

The Chinese Communist Party right now faces a choice: it can use the Confucius Institutes to continue its ineffective spread of cultural soft power, or it can adopt a ‘middleman’ approach and convey Chinese culture from local to international communities. While the latter seems to be the better choice, the reality is that the Confucius Institutes’ capacity to fulfill their stated mission lies entirely in the hands of their creators.

[1] Yan, Xuetong. “How China Can Defeat America.” The New York Times 21 Nov. 2011, New York ed., sec. A: 29. Yan Xuetong is currently serving as the dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University.

[2] At this point I would like to express my gratitude to the Tristan Perlroth Summer Travel Award Committee for the generous funding they provided to make my research possible. I would also like to thank Professor Deborah Davis of Yale University for her guidance throughout the development of the original work that led to this paper.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Wang, Guanqun, ed. “Cultural Development Concerns Realization of China’s Modernization, Rejuvenation of Chinese Nation: People’s Daily.” Xinhua Wang. Xinhua News Agency, 18 Oct. 2011. English translation.

[5] “Traditional Chinese culture” is often used interchangeably with “Confucianism.” See Zhang, Tiejun. “Self-Identity Construction of the Present China.” Comparative Strategy 23.3 (2004): 290.

[6] Wang, Yamei, ed. “China Runs Confucius Video in New York’s Times Square.” Xinhua Wang. Xinhua News Agency, 1 Oct. 2011.

[7] See Yang, Rui. “Soft Power and Higher Education: an Examination of China’s Confucius Institutes.” Globalisation, Societies and Education 8.2 (2010): 238. “The Hanban officially denies its intention of soft power projection. Its director Xu Lin (2008), emphasizes that CIs are not projecting soft power, nor aim to impose Chinese values or Chinese culture on other countries…In contrast, the soft power concept has been enthusiastically taken up by the Chinese government (Starr 2009).”

[8] Starr, Don. “Chinese Language Education in Europe: the Confucius Institutes.” European Journal of Education 44.1 (2009): 65-82.

[9] See Yang, Rui. “Soft Power and Higher Education: an Examination of China’s Confucius Institutes.” Globalisation, Societies and Education 8.2 (2010): 239.

[10] Nye, Joseph S. Soft Power: the Means to Success in World Politics. New York: Public Affairs, 2004.

[11] Goldstein, Avery. Rising to the Challenge: China’s Grand Strategy and International Security. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2005. 174.

[12] Xinhua. “Stage set to boost culture.” Qiushi. 19 Oct. 2011. Web. 21 Feb. 2012. <http://english.qstheory.cn/news/201110/t20111019_117624.htm#>.

[13] Starr, Don. “Chinese Language Education in Europe: the Confucius Institutes.” European Journal of Education 44.1 (2009): 69.

[14] “Confucius Makes a Comeback.” The Economist (US) 19 May 2007: 48.

[15] Kurlantzick, Joshua. Charm Offensive: How China’s Soft Power Is Transforming the

World. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007. 68.

[16] Yao Xinzhong translates the Five Constant Regulations (ren, yi, li, zhi, xin) as humaneness, righteousness, ritual/propriety, wisdom and faithfulness, respectively. See Yao, Xinzhong. An Introduction to Confucianism. New York: Cambridge UP, 2000. 34.

[17] De Bary, William Theodore. The Trouble with Confucianism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1991. 107.

[18] For more information, see <http://english.Hanban.org/node_10971.htm>

[19] Yan, ed. “Confucius Institute Opens in Azerbaijan.” Xinhua Wang. Xinhua News Agency, 23 April 2011.

[20] Paradise, James F. “China and International Harmony: The Role of Confucius Institutes in Bolstering Beijing’s Soft Power.” Asian Survey 49.4 (2009): 652.

[21] Yang, Rui. “Soft Power and Higher Education: an Examination of China’s Confucius Institutes.” Globalisation, Societies and Education 8.2 (2010): 241.

[22] Marklein, Mary Beth. “A Clash over Confucius Institutes.” USA Today [US] 8 Dec. 2009: 2A.

[23] Ibid. 238.

[24] Paradise, James F. “China and International Harmony: The Role of Confucius Institutes in Bolstering Beijing’s Soft Power.” Asian Survey 49.4 (2009): 653.

[25] Peters, Mike and Zhang Chunyan. “Confucius alive.” Qiushi. 3 Sept 2012. Web. 21 Feb 2012. <http://english.qstheory.cn/news/201109/t20110930_114169.htm>.

[26] Ibid. 650.

[27] See Paradise, James F. “China and International Harmony: The Role of Confucius Institutes in Bolstering Beijing’s Soft Power.” Asian Survey 49.4 (2009): 657-8. Paradise establishes through multiple interviews that while most CI educators feel their jobs are apolitical in nature, many high-ranking government officials only support the CI Initiative due to its soft power potential.

[28] Zheng, Yongnian. Discovering Chinese Nationalism in China: Modernization, Identity, and International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999. 48.

[29] Schell, Orville. “China’s Quest for Moral Authority.” The Nation 20 Oct. 2008: 24.

[30] Zhang, Tiejun. “Self-Identity Construction of the Present China.” Comparative Strategy 23.3 (2004): 290.

[31] Melvin, Sheila. “Yu Dan and China’s Return to Confucius.” The New York Times 29 Aug. 2007.

[32] Bell, Daniel. China’s New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2008. 163-74 (Appendix 1).

[33] Schell, Orville. “China’s Quest for Moral Authority.” The Nation 20 Oct. 2008: 25.

[34] Ibid.12.

[35] Yang, Rui. “Soft Power and Higher Education: an Examination of China’s Confucius Institutes.” Globalisation, Societies and Education 8.2 (2010): 240.

[36] Sun, Yuan. “Questions on the Sihai Confucius Academy.” E-mail interview. 7 Nov. 2011.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Sun, Yuan. “Questions on the Sihai Confucius Academy.” E-mail interview. 7 Nov. 2011.

[40] In countries where Confucianism is an established part of the culture, such as South Korea, CIs may not need to introduce supplemental classes on the principles of Confucianism. However there may be some value in teaching the role of Confucianism specifically in Chinese culture.

[41] Greene, Deborah Meyers. “Confucius Institute Open House to highlight Chinese art forms.” University of Michigan Record Update. 19 March 2010. Web. 1 March 2012. <http://www.ur.umich.edu/update/archives/100319/confucius>.

[42] “Second Issue of Xinhua Gallery Kicked Off in 18 African Countries.” Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Official Website. Web. 1 March 2012.< http://www.focac.org/eng/zfgx/t814207.htm>.

[43] Peters, Mike and Zhang Chunyan. “Confucius alive.” Qiushi. 3 Sept 2012. Web. 21 Feb 2012. <http://english.qstheory.cn/news/201109/t20110930_114169.htm>.

[44]Guttenplan, D.D. “Critics Worry About Influence of Chinese Institutes on U.S. Campuses.” The International Herald Tribune. 5 March 2012.


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