University of Maryland shuts down first Confucius Institute in US

US government ends Chinese cultural education programs and cites security concerns

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University of Maryland to close Confucius Institute due to federal regulations. (UMD photo)

University of Maryland to close Confucius Institute due to federal regulations. (UMD photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The University of Maryland (UMD) announced Friday (Jan. 17) that it will shut down its Confucius Institute (CI), the first of its kind in the U.S., due to government regulations.

In a campus-wide email, UMD President Wallace Loh said the school could no longer offer the Chinese language and culture programs, mostly funded by the Chinese Ministry of Education, after the 2019-2020 school year. He said the university had informed CI headquarters in Beijing about the termination of their partnership.

According to Liberty Times, UMD established its CI in 2004 and was followed by many other universities across the country. Initially, the cultural education programs were introduced to promote the Chinese language and enhance exchanges between students from the U.S. and China.

However, there have been allegations of political influence on academics and turning American students pro-Communist. Taiwan's independence and the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) inhumane acts against the Tibetans are among topics that were prohibited at CIs.

The U.S. government passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (NDAA 2018), which took effect last summer, to protect the national interests. The legislation prevents universities that received China's money for CI programs from applying for Department of Defense funding, reported Radio France Internationale.

UMD is not the first university to shut down its Chinese programs due to federal pressure. As U.S.–China tensions continue to escalate, more universities are expected to terminate their CI programs to avoid association with the East Asian superpower.