The British government has fired the latest shot in the New Cold War against China. After weeks of speculation in the Tory-adjacent press, new Home Office minister Tom Tugendhat has announced that the UK will seek to ban the Confucious Institute (CI) from campuses, and possibly from the UK altogether.
The CI is an international organisation that engages in China-related cultural work; namely language, history, art, and information about contemporary China. It is an independent network of institutes associated with the Chinese International Education Foundation and is not – as is often inaccurately reported by the bourgeois press – a Chinese government organisation.
Despite this, the Home Office has described the CI as posing “a threat to civil liberties in many universities in the United Kingdom”, and new PM Rishi Sunak “will be looking to close them”. The irony of banning a series of harmless cultural centres in the name of “civil liberties” will not be lost on many.
The government has even gone as far as to suggest that the CI may be replaced with a series of imported Taiwanese teachers. This renders any crocodile tears about political liberties hollow: the ruling class is clearly trying to replace a Chinese institution with a series of flunkies that will sing the right tune.
The reality is that the CI acts as a vital point of contact for many Chinese students studying in the UK, as well as an accessible route into language diversity and broader cultural horizons for many British students.
Having found itself relatively weak compared to its imperialist allies and rivals, the British ruling class is having to look inwards to score cheap points against China, and what it claims to see as Chinese cultural aggression.
In the wake of war, climate crisis and an ever-worsening economic disaster, the government is looking for a scapegoat in China. Unfortunately for the west China does not engage in illegal wars or economic gambling with the lives of its own citizens, and so the propaganda machine of the ruling class must instead take aim at entirely innocuous Chinese cultural institutions.
The CP Educational Advisory condemns this sabre-rattling in the strongest possible terms. We express our solidarity with those Chinese students and communities that will see this as the attack that it indisputably is, and we call on students and educators to stand against government interference in campus life.