McMaster to Close down Confucius Institute Over discriminatory Hiring Practices


McMaster University will not be renewing its contract with the Confucius Institute which expires July.31, over its discriminatory hiring policies.

This decision follows an investigation by the university that found out that the Institute questioned the religious beliefs of the Chinese lecturers it hired.

Confucius Institute is part of Hanban, a Chinese government agency that has hundreds of similar centers around the world.

Sonia Zhao, one of the lecturers at McMaster's institute came to Canada in 2010.

Zhao quit her post the next year and then complained to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, 2012, about an employment contract that forced her to hide her belief in Falun Gong.

 Falun Gong is a spiritual movement that is considered dangerous by the Chinese government.

"It's really around the hiring decisions, and those decisions were being made in China," Andrea Farquhar, McMaster's assistant vice-president of public and government relations told the Globe and Mail.

Farquhar said that since these hiring practices do not reflect the universities' freedom of expression and choice; the partnership and the institute will cease to exist.

Zhao was extremely happy upon hearing McMaster's decision and hopes that other universities follow suit.

In defence, the Chinese authorities allege that the Confucius Institutes are harmless, as they are designed to strengthen friendship and co-operation between China and the rest of the world through teaching the Chinese language and culture.

Charles Burton, a Brock University political science professor and an expert in China relations told CBC that Confucius Institutes have both positive and negative aspects.

Burton said that Chinese instruction is important for McMaster students. So, it is better that the university continues instruction in Chinese language and culture by not depending on funds from a foreign government.

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