Concerns raised over Scottish Government’s £5m grants to Chinese Confucius hubs

Primary Author or Creator:
Billy Briggs
The Ferret
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Fast Facts

Grants of £5millon have been given to the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools (CISS) which is based at Strathclyde University and has 22 learning hubs in schools to promote Chinese languages and culture.

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A freedom of information request has revealed that since the 2015-16 financial year the Scottish Government has given the CISS eight grants totalling £5,333,388. The Scottish Government said language skills and cultural awareness are essential for young people in Scotland.

But concerns have been raised over China’s potential influence in Scotland’s education sector, and Confucius institutes have been criticised because they are funded by the Chinese state, which has been accused of spying and crimes against humanity

Critics claim that Conficius learning hubs are used as “soft power” by China in an attempt to wield influence within the UK, and to spy on Chinese students studying abroad to ensure they do not speak out against their government. 

There are also growing concerns over China’s human rights record, brought into sharp focus on 1 September 2022 after the UN accused the Chinese state of abuses that may amount to “crimes against humanity”.

Based at Strathclyde University, CISS says it is an “award winning Confucius Institute working with schools across Scotland to engage pupils with Chinese language learning and culture.” There are Conficius classroom hubs in primary and secondary schools across Scotland and scholarships are given for pupils to study in China for nine months.