MPs are in talks to replace Beijing-backed teachers with professionals from Taiwan, The Guardian reports
British MPs are in talks with Taipei to replace Beijing-backed Chinese language teachers working in the UK with staff from Taiwan, The Guardian reports.
Mandarin is currently taught to British students through 30 branches of the Confucius Institute, which are joint ventures of host universities in the UK, their counterparts in China, and the Beijing-based Chinese International Education Foundation (CIEF).
Funding for the project between 2015 and 2024 is estimated at £27 million ($31 million), according to the China Research Group.
But now London wants to divert this money to alternative programs, including those from Taiwan, according to The Guardian.
The group of cross-party MPs, now in talks with Taipei to provide Chinese language teachers, includes prominent Tory lawmaker Alicia Kearns, it added.
New British Prime Minister Liz Truss praised the Confucius Institute when she was Education Minister in 2014. At the time, she said the project was the “very strong progress” in the UK and said it would? “establish a strong infrastructure for Mandarin” iin the country.
However, the Beijing-backed program has since become increasingly critical due to the recent cooling of relations between the UK and China and Britain’s overwhelming support for the self-governed island of Taiwan, which the Chinese authorities consider part of their own territory.
Critics have accused the Confucius Institute of lacking free speech in its classes, promoting Beijing’s agenda and even being used for espionage.
A report from the Times last month claimed that Truss planned to label China as an “acute threat” to the UK, putting it in the same category as Russia. She had previously labeled Chinese tech giants a security risk and called for more weapons to be sent to Taipei.