Mission Accomplished? The Retreat of the Confucius Institutes under Globalization

Samson Long Ho YIM, Zhen TIAN

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


China has rapidly expanded the Confucius Institutes internationally since its first establishment in Seoul in 2004. The Confucius Institutes teaches Chinese language and promotes Chinese culture within the higher education institutions aboard. Following a worldwide trend of retreating Confucius Institutes, there has been an ongoing debate about whether the Confucius Institutes is a cultural institution, or a political organization infiltrated in other countries and regions. Therefore, it is the purpose of this study to answer the research question: Whether the Confucius Institutes had accomplished their missions from both educational and political perspectives in the face of a large-scale retreat of its overseas operations from 2017 to 2021? An interdisciplinary approach is adopted to examine the educational outcomes and the political goals of the Confucius Institutes, which includes the theory of soft power from international relations and the human capital theory and the social capital theory from sociology. Based on the close analysis of the Sino-U.S. relations, as well as policy review, social listening, secondary data analysis of the development of Confucius Institutes, this paper finds that the development of the Confucius Institutes is more associated with the shift in geopolitics than its own adjustments as an academic institution.

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Public LectureThe 8th Higher Education Research Association
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