Transforming our worldthrough nonviolent action
UMass Boston signed a deal with the Chinese-government backed Confucius Institute in 2006, putting students and curriculum at risk for censorship by Chinese authorities. But their contract is set for renewal in April this year!
Sign this petition to urge UMass President Marty Meehan to close down the Confucius Institute at UMass Boston and shut the Chinese government out of their classrooms once and for all.
Over 100 Chinese government-backed Confucius Institutes in America are making an insidious attempt to restrict academic freedom by silencing debate on human rights and other sensitive issues, and whitewash its atrocious human rights records in Tibet and China.
Dear [Decision Maker],
I am shocked and outraged to learn UMass Boston signed a contract with the Chinese government agreeing to follow the "laws and regulations" of China, and cede academic control to Chinese authorities, in order to be allowed to host the Confucius Institute on the UMass Boston campus. I strongly urge you not to renew the contract between UMass Boston and Hanban (the Chinese government agency that runs the Confucius Institute) when it expires on April 8, 2018.
Controversy over Confucius Institutes is growing by the day. Most recently, on February 13, the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, testified before the Senate Foreign Intelligence Committee that the agency was concerned over Chinese intelligence operatives being active within American universities. In the case of Confucius Institutes, he said the FBI is "watching warily" over the operation of these Chinese government-backed programs and, in some cases, even actively investigating them.As we can see from the contract UMass Boston signed with Hanban on April 8, 2013, in order to host a Confucius Institute, universities and schools must agree to surrender control over academic matters to Confucius "Headquarters" in Beijing and, disturbingly, they must also agree to follow the "laws and regulations" of China. As you know, China is a one-party, authoritarian state notorious for its zero-tolerance policy toward dissent, and for carrying out systematic human rights abuses against Tibetans, Uighurs and even Chinese citizens themselves. For Umass Boston to agree to such terms is completely incompatible with not only the U.S. Constitution, but also cherished American values including academic and intellectual freedom.Confucius Institutes have long been controversial because they are controlled and operated by the Chinese government, and are a stated part of Beijing's push to build its soft power around the world. Though marketed as a benign language and culture program, Confucius Institutes use their foothold in prestigious academic institutions to influence and steer academic discourse, and ultimately aim to distort information and shape public opinion on key political and human rights issues such as Tibet, Taiwan, and the Tiananmen Square massacre. As a result of their presence on campus, whether through direct intervention, or pre-emptive self-censorship, important political and human rights issues are being silenced. A recent Politico article on Confucius Institutes quoted Li Changchun, one of China's most senior political leaders, as saying: "The Confucius Institute is an appealing brand for expanding our culture abroad. It has made an important contribution toward improving our soft power. The 'Confucius' brand has a natural attractiveness. Using the excuse of teaching Chinese language, everything looks reasonable and logical." There is no doubt that the Chinese communist party is using language and culture studies (via Confucius Institute) as an instrument of espionage and a pretext to spread CCP propaganda. In this day and age, as we come to terms with the full extent to which the Russian government interfered with the U.S. elections and our free and open society, it is unconscionable for UMass to allow the Chinese government to embed itself in our system of higher education with such a blatant political agenda. And to make matters worse, the Confucius Institute at UMass Boston is leading a push into our elementary and high schools where the target audience is young and less equipped to defend against a sophisticated long-term soft power strategy such as this.
For the many reasons stated above, I urgently request you to do everything in your power to ensure that the UMass Boston Confucius Institute contract which expires on April 8, 2018, is not renewed. With thanks for your attention to this serious matter.
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP]