The University of the Philippines (UP) Department of Linguistics slammed the recent establishment of a Confucius Institute inside the UP Diliman campus, saying that it poses a threat to the university’s academic freedom.
In a statement published online and written entirely in Filipino, the faculty members of the UP Linguistics Department raised four points to explain their opposition to the creation of the Confucius Institute. First, the department stressed that UP, being the country’s premier state university, should not allow foreign institutions inside the campus especially if it will be exempted from the supervision of the university.
The UP Department of Linguistics reiterated that the university is already doing the core functions of Confucius Institution – mainly the teaching of Mandarin as well as Chinese studies. The department also warned that the stated aim of the institution to “correct” mistakes in the teaching of the aforementioned things is a clear threat to the university’s academic freedom.
“Baligtarin natin ang sitwasyon: papayag kaya ang pamahalaang Tsina na magtatag ng isang sangay ng pambansang institusyon ang Pilipinas upang ‘itama’ ang pagtuturo ng wikang Filipino at mga araling may kaugnayan sa Pilipinas sa loob ng kanilang pambansang unibersidad? (Let’s reverse the situation: will the Chinese government allow the establishment of a Philippine institution inside their national university to ‘correct’ the way the Filipino language and topics to Philippine studies is being taught?)” the department explained.
The Confucius Institute at UP Diliman was inaugurated last October 12, with Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua as one of the guests. During the event, Xiamen University Vice President declared that the Confucius Institute “will make positive contribution to enhancing the relations between the people of China and the Philippines.”
The following Philippine universities also have a Confucius Institute: Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City and Makati City, at the Bulacan State University in Malolos City, Bulacan; and the Angeles University Foundation in Angeles City, Pampanga.
In their aforementioned statement, the UP Department of Linguistics noted that other Confucius Institutes around the world have been involved in a wide array of issues and controversies. Most recent among these is the so-called Braga Incident where a high-ranking Chinese education official ordered the removal of pages mentioning Taiwan’s Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange from the conference program being distributed in connection to a gathering of the European Association of Chinese Studies in Braga, Portugal last July 2014.
These issues have forced a number of universities in Europe and North America to terminate its partnership with the Confucius Institute including the Pennsylvania State University and the University of Chicago in the United States, Stockholm University in Sweden (which is the first one in Europe), and Canada’s McMaster University.
“Mukhang hindi narinig o sadyang hindi dininig ang nauna na nating mga pagtutol simula pa noong taong 2010 kung kailan unang tinangka ng Confucius Institute na makapagtatag ng sangay nito sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas-Diliman (It seems that the university administration failed to hear or deliberately refused to hear our objections to this proposal since it was first suggested in 2010),” the department added, pointing out that the administration of UP President Alfredo Pascual did not conduct thorough consultations regarding the issue.