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July 17, 2017

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ChicagoD

The Confucius Institute drove me out of Hebei University of Economics and Business when I was teaching courses there for Concordia University of Chicago. And I speak Chinese, have a Taiwanese wife, and had been coming to China for 10 years as chairman of a subsidiary of a US hedge fund. The Confucius Institute has been banned at many top universities: http://www.scmp.com/news/china-insider/article/1511268/chinas-confucius-institute-faces-backlash-prestigious-us-school

On the other hand, I teach in China for Chicago-Kent's LLM program, and I have wonderful experiences. But it is not through the Confucius Institute.

The Confucius Institute is a preposterous name because the mainland Chinese have basically banned his teachings for decades, and only now are trying to rehabilitate him. In Taiwan, the students have to memorize Confucian teachings. They know more about China than the Chinese do.

I suspect that your experience will go well as long as you do not mention Taiwan, Tibet, Tiananmen, or human rights. If you say anything remotely controversial, you will find "visiting professors" who want to sit in on your classes "to see how things are done in America," then one day you wake up to find that a full report on your class has been sent to thousands of readers on WeChat and signed by the head of the Communist Party. Then you will find yourself on one side of a long table with 8 party officials on the other side, with two people filming you, and a one way ticket home. That's if you are lucky.

Don't fool yourself. You were just a tool, a smokescreen for a country that rounds up all the human rights lawyers and puts them in prison, locks up Nobel Prize winners, and comes to Hong Kong to kidnap booksellers for selling books (in Hong Kong!) that are critical of China. The students are interested in American law for one reason: they want to get out. I know, I have been there and I live 20 minutes from the border.

Chicago D

Cut out my comments huh?

Brian Frye

My apologies, your original comment was caught in a spam filter & I have not logged in for a couple of days because I was working on an article.

I agree with your criticisms of the Chinese government & of the Confucius Institute. However, I found that there were many ways to subtly illustrate American values of free speech and free discussion.

I would prefer not to elaborate, for obvious reasons. But if you are interested in discussing in private, I would be delighted to hear your thoughts. brianlfrye@gmail.com

DEL

Thank you Brian. It is something that I have struggled with for years: how to adapt to their society and yet not become an instrument of their propaganda, and not get persecuted. I cannot say that I have mastered this dilemma. I run into issues even when I couch my comments as "I am teaching you in the American style because you have chosen a course of the type we teach in America, where the professors will require that you form an opinion and debate the topic on both sides; if this makes you uncomfortable then I respect your decision but please leave the course." I am in China at least monthly and actually have more longtime friends on the mainland than I do in Hong Kong. It's also hard for me to be objective since my wife is from Taiwan (which makes here Fujian Chinese ultimately), and they have overcome a rocky past to get freedom of speech, democracy, a woman president, gay rights, freedom of religion, and governmental control of food and air, etc. I will send you my story privately and you might find it interesting: at least the AAUP did....

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