In last year’s leadership campaign, Rishi Sunak promised to shut down the 30 Chinese ‘cultural institutes’ in the U.K. Now he’s done a reverse ferret. The Telegraph has more.
The Prime Minister promised during last summer’s leadership campaign that he would shut down the 30 Chinese culture institutes in the U.K. as he labelled China the “largest threat to Britain and the world’s security and prosperity this century”.
However, he has now rowed back on that decision in a sign that he is softening his stance on China.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “We are taking action to remove all government funding from Confucius Institutes in the U.K., but currently judge that it would be disproportionate to ban them.
“Like any international body operating in the U.K., Confucius Institutes need to operate transparently and within the law, and with a full commitment to our values of openness and freedom of expression.
“We recognise concerns about overseas interference in our higher education sector, including through Confucius Institutes, and regularly assess the risks facing academia.”
The institutes, which are based at universities across the U.K., were set up to deliver culture and language classes to international students.
However, they have been accused of being a front for the Chinese Communist Party to clamp down on critical views on China.
Research published by the U.K.-China Transparency charity earlier this year found that staff at Confucius Institutes are required to “impose state-sponsored discipline” on Chinese students in the U.K.
Last year, the Henry Jackson Society, a pro-democracy think-tank, reported evidence that staff at Confucius Institutes in the U.K. are having their political views and ethnic backgrounds filtered by Chinese officials.
The institutes have been banned in other countries such as Sweden, amid fears they are being used as a front for Chinese espionage. The U.S. has clamped down on Confucius Institutes by restricting funding to any university that hosts them.
Read More: Rishi Sunak Does U-Turn on Banning China’s Confucius Institutes