University shuts down Confucius Institute following years of opposition

Media Credit: Lillian Bautista | Contributing Photo Editor

University spokesperson Crystal Nosal said officials closed the Chinese government-funded center June 30 and decided to offer its educational services and experiences without the institute.

Updated: July 22, 2021 at 9:21 p.m.

Officials closed GW’s Confucius Institute at the end of last month, shuttering a Chinese government-funded academic center that drew backlash from students, politicians and government agencies for years.

The Confucius Institute is commonly found on university campuses nationwide and was established at GW in partnership with China’s Nanjing University in 2013 to direct education toward Chinese language and culture, especially in the D.C. community. University spokesperson Crystal Nosal said officials closed the institute on June 30 and decided to provide its academic offerings separately after reviewing the University’s “strategic approach” to center’s focus of study.

“The George Washington University has a long-standing commitment to engagement with the world as a comprehensive global research university,” Nosal said in an email. “This includes a commitment to teaching and research related to Chinese language and culture.”

University spokesperson Crystal Nosal declined to explain officials’ reasoning for the institute’s closure and whether it was related to concerns about its ties to the Chinese government. Nosal also declined to comment on any feedback that officials have received about the decision.

GW’s Confucius Institute has faced political pressure and opposition from the wider University community in recent years and several of these academic centers across the nation have recently closed due to political backlash caused by concerns about ties to the Chinese government. The University received more than $75 million from the Saudi Arabian and Chinese governments from 2013 to 2019 and 30 percent of its funding from China was directed toward the Confucius Institute.

This post was updated to clarify the following:
This post was updated to clarify the amount of Chinese donations used to fund the Confucius Institute from 2013 to 2019.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.